EMC, Hitachi Settle Their Differences

A big win for customers

Relations between EMC Corp. and Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) have been frosty for some time now, but both companies last week took an important step toward reconciliation when they agreed to settle pending litigation they’d brought against one another.

EMC originally filed patent infringement complaints against HDS and its parent company, Hitachi Ltd., on April 10, 2002. HDS struck back, filing patent infringement complaints against EMC seven days later.

Both vendors agree to drop these claims, opting instead to sign five-year technology cross-licensing pacts. In addition, both EMC and HDS have agreed to exchange storage APIs. Hitachi has also agreed to make balancing payments to EMC.

The upshot, analysts say, is actually a pretty big win for customers. Previously, customers had to invest in third party storage management frameworks—such as OpenView Storage Area Management from Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP)—if they wanted to manage both their EMC and HDS storage from a single administrative console. That’s because HP, among others, has signed API-sharing agreements with EMC, HDS, and several other vendors (see http://esj.com/news/article.asp?EditorialsID=276).

Because EMC and Hitachi have agreed to a framework for exchanging storage APIs, however, both companies should now be able to incorporate support for one another’s products into their storage management tools. That, suggests independent storage consultant Arun Taneja, makes all the difference. “This [litigation] is really only hurting their customers. They are using two solutions to do the same job that they could be doing with one. Or they are spending extra money on a single tool that can manage their storage. But what they want is this support natively,” said Taneja in an interview several weeks ago.

Storage management vendors are now shipping products that support open standards such as the Common Information Model (CIM)—a standard developed by the Desktop Management Task Force that defines a common model for the management of a variety of different devices—and Bluefin, a storage area network (SAN) management standard that exploits CIM and was developed by the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA).

Many analysts, including Taneja, suggest that the capabilities of both standards fall short of native storage management APIs.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.