Marking the first of many promised expansions of EMC's AutoIS heterogeneous storage management program, EMC on Thursday announced an agreement with storage rival Compaq Computer to jointly share their separate storage sub-system APIs.
Announced last month, AutoIS (automated information storage) is EMC's program to bring storage products from third-party vendors under a single EMC management infrastructure. A middleware component of AutoIS, called WideSky, uses APIs from other vendors to control and virtualise those third-party storage systems.
"What we achieved with WideSky is to open up our storage. And what we did with Compaq (in gaining access to their APIs) will be the first of many," said Don Swatic, the vice president of alliances and information sciences at EMC.
By "swapping APIs," EMC and Compaq essential swap storage functionality, Swatic said.
But the mutual undressing of both EMC's and Compaq's storage subsystem command codes is a potentially risky move by both companies. While EMC sought the Compaq APIs to eventually sell storage software that manages Compaq hardware, Compaq, armed with EMC's APIs, is just as capable of selling technology that manages EMC hardware.
However, EMC clearly sees itself as the stronger company, and is betting customers will opt for AutoIS and WideSky.
"EMC has been saying 'We're all for virtualising storage,' as long as EMC owns that virtualisation," said Dan Tanner, a senior storage analyst with the Aberdeen Group.
EMC's Swatic sees the API deal with Compaq as an even trade.
"It's an equal trade; we've lined up our APIs that match the functionality of their APIs," he said, adding that as far as future API swapping deals were concerned, potential partners would have to "have enough in their APIs for us to expose our storage APIs to them."
EMC and Compaq will still compete with one another in the storage market, Swatic said.
From there, life will go on as usual for both EMC and Compaq, Tanner said.
"I think this is just the first step in the maturity of WideSky. This allows EMC to support Compaq systems and Compaq to support EMC in mixed storage environments, they will still compete though. It's as simple as that," Tanner said.