EMC unveils first SaaS storage application

EMC hints at more hosted storage offerings with creation of SaaS business unit

EMC is making its first play in the emerging online storage market, with the creation of a new software-as-a-service business unit and a new enterprise storage service based on EMC's September acquisition of online backup provider Mozy, the company stated Tuesday.

EMC has previously offered some security and content management products in the software-as-a-service model, but is only now bringing its storage capabilities to the world of Web-hosted applications, says Roy Sanford, vice president of marketing for EMC's new software-as-a-service unit. EMC hinted at many more online storage products down the road but did not specify what these future offerings might entail.

Some customers are telling EMC "we just want to go online and rent what we need in a subscription service," Sanford notes.

The key to this move was EMC's purchase of Berkeley Data Systems, the owner of online storage provider Mozy. Mozy had primarily focused on small businesses, home offices and individuals, but EMC expanded on those offerings Tuesday by announcing MozyEnterprise for online backup of desktops, laptops and remote Windows servers.

MozyEnterprise features enhanced security from EMC's RSA division, and administrative functions that make it suitable "for larger customers who have tens of thousands of PCs," Sanford says.

After Mozy software is installed on each device, files are transferred over broadband connections to EMC data centers. Customers manage their backups through a Web-based administrative console. Pricing for PC and laptop backup is $5.25 per month for each device, and another 70 cents per month for each gigabyte in storage.

Server pricing is US$9.25 per device each month, and US$2.35 per gigabyte.

EMC is one of numerous storage software vendors beginning to deliver their software-as-a-service, says Rich Bourdeau, senior analyst at the Taneja Group and former director of product management at EMC. IBM recently acquired Arsenal Digital Solutions, and Symantec developed its Protection Network, he notes. These moves, like EMC with Mozy, give the vendors new reach into the market for consumers and small businesses, he says.

"There is a lot of competition but EMC is fairly well positioned," Bourdeau says. "They chose Mozy specifically to be able to go down market to the consumer base."

EMC built MozyEnterprise on EMC Fortress, which the company calls "a secure, hardened enterprise-class platform for SaaS delivery."

"Once [customer files] get to EMC data centers the content is managed by EMC, but we can't see it because it's encrypted," Sanford says.

EMC announced various new reseller agreements to distribute MozyEnterprise, as well as an expanded relationship with Verizon Business. EMC hinted at more hosted offerings down the road by talking about a new "software-as-a-service strategy," but stayed mum about the details.

"We'd rather not play our hand too early," Sanford notes.

Application recovery and e-discovery capabilities are both possibilities, Bourdeau says, but EMC has been "pretty secretive" on the topic of its future plans.

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