EMC Bid Elates Legato Users

Users positive on acquisition, anticipate improved customer support

When EMC Corp. announced its acquisition of storage software specialist Legato Systems Inc. last week, CEO Joe Tucci touted the natural synergies between the two companies.

“Legato helps fill the gaps we had in the data management space and gives us significantly more presence in other areas of the market,” Tucci said during a conference call.

Existing users of Legato’s NetWorker enterprise backup product tout synergies of another kind. For example, many of the users with whom we spoke say they already have EMC storage in-house. Not surprisingly, they’re excited about the possibilities of a combined EMC/Legato enterprise backup and storage management offering.

Others, disappointed by what they characterize as Legato’s less-than-stellar product support, are optimistic that things will improve with EMC at the helm. Still other users, many of whom have evaluated competitive offerings as a result of Legato’s feature and functionality shortcomings, expect that EMC will do much to enhance the capabilities of NetWorker and other products.

Perhaps most surprising, none of the Legato users we contacted expressed dissatisfaction with the deal. In fact, most thought it a good thing.

Take one Unix storage administrator with a healthcare system headquartered in the Midwest. “I think it is generally good for Legato customers. I'm hoping the quality will improve with the increased [research and development],” this administrator explains, noting that his company does not have any EMC storage—it’s a Hitachi shop—and that NetWorker is its only backup tool. “The only things that worry me about it are possible price increases and making it more tied to EMC's hardware.”

During last week’s conference call, Tucci disclosed plans to integrate Legato’s products with those of EMC to create solutions based on a single architecture. Among other storage software solutions, EMC markets ControlCenter (for its high-end Symmetrix arrays) and Navisphere (for its midrange Clariion boxes). The Hopkinton, Mass.-based vendor recently acquired (http://info.101com.com/default.asp?id=2026) Patrol Storage Manager (PSM) from BMC Software Corp., along with storage resource management (SRM) vendor Astrum Software Corp.

The result, says Arun Taneja, a consulting analyst with storage consultancy Taneja Group, is that through these acquisitions and others, EMC is attempting to build a robust SRM infrastructure.

“EMC is serious about that, about continuing to make headway into that heterogeneous resource management space. Whether it will pan out remains to be seen,” he points out. “Nobody but BMC has made the decision so far on the independent side to go sell the heterogeneous EMC software.”

The deal gives EMC much-needed cross-platform reach, even as it will likely drive innovation in Legato’s flagship NetWorker product, which many analysts—and even some NetWorker users—say trails competitive offerings from Veritas and other vendors.

Last week, Legato CEO David Wright—who’s slated to join EMC as an executive vice president—effectively acknowledged as much: "If there has been any stumbling block for Legato, it has been a lack of resources," he said during a conference call. With EMC’s backing, Wright suggested, “we expect that will no longer be the case.”

That’s welcome news to the Unix storage administrator quoted above, as well as to another NetWorker administrator with a multinational medical technology company based in the EU. “I see Legato as a laggard in development and product breadth, especially when comparing their product spectrum with Veritas. So Legato seems slow to develop and weak in support,” he observes.

In this regard, he speculates, “EMC will drastically raise the bar in both cases.” In particular, this user expects that EMC will do much to enhance Legato’s poor customer service. “We should also see a drastic spike in customer support and service. Of course this will likely include price increases, but when value is attached, increases should be an easy sell for the new business,” he concludes.

EMC Users Elated

Not surprisingly, many of the same shops that use NetWorker as their exclusive enterprise backup solution also have a sizeable investment in EMC storage. Such users say that they’re thrilled by EMC’s bid.

Again, expectations of improved support were cited by most of the users with whom we spoke. One, a storage administrator with a financial services firm, says that EMC’s support simply outclasses Legato’s. For this reason, he’s optimistic that things will improve once EMC starts officially supporting Legato’s customers. “Since we have an excellent support matrix with EMC as compared to Legato, we believe this will help very much,” he confirms.

Another joint user of EMC and Legato products anticipates a positive spike in service and support as well. “I'm thrilled. I'm surprised it's taken this long for these two companies to come together. Legato has struggled in the area of customer support and this is an area where EMC excels,” this user—an administrator with a multinational furniture company—says. “After the initial turbulence has passed, I expect great things from this acquisition. We already consider both of these companies as 'critical' suppliers to our IT organization.”

Finally, a storage administrator with a national financial institution is cautiously optimistic about the deal. After all, his company is a NetWorker shop, but also uses EMC’s Symmetrix, Connectrix, and Celerra storage, along with BMC’s PSM—which EMC picked up two weeks ago.

“With EMC and Legato having such a stake … in our company, I'd think the foundation would be severely rattled if the support and product enhancements were lacking after this acquisition,” he points out.

About the Author

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