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EMC to push metered storage

The storage giant is set to unveil an on-demand storage program that charges customers only for what they use, marking a shift towards a model championed by IBM and HP.

Storage giant EMC is set to unveil an on-demand storage program that charges customers only for what they use, marking a shift toward a utility computing model championed by IBM and Hewlett-Packard.

Under a typical utility computing plan, computing power is dispensed as needed, much like electricity or water. The model, which has been strongly promoted by Big Blue and rival Hewlett-Packard, is supposed to benefit customers by bringing down the total cost of ownership, as well as offer the savings of outsourcing IT operations.

Now, EMC is set to get in the game, too. In two weeks, the storage specialist will introduce a service called OpenScale that measures how much storage is actually being used, said Tony Marzulli, EMC's vice president of open software marketing. Customers will be charged accordingly.

"We've have been doing this for some of our customers for almost a year," he said.

According to details on the firm's Web site, OpenScale will cull storage information from customer data centers though a software module called "Collector" and report the findings back to EMC for billing purposes.

The Collector software application is a web-based performance monitor for EMC's ControlCenter.net products and services. The Collector can gather data from storage, Unix, Windows, Oracle, and SAP R/3 environments for access by other EMC products and services such as AutoAdvice, OpenScale and SAN (Storage Area Network) Architect, the firm said.

Other storage systems providers, such as HP, IBM and Hitachi, have traditionally offered on-demand storage services that allow customers to turn on incremental blocks of storage when they see a need. However, EMC's OpenScale service--to be officially unveiled in two weeks--marks one of the first attempts to break storage subscription right down to granular details.

Marzulli said that EMC's utility plan will not include outsourced storage, in which customers leave storage operations to another company.

Not all customers see the wisdom in letting another company take over its hardware, processes and people, Marzulli said. He added that outsourcing is a complex business that has not always lived up to its promise.

He also questioned the wisdom of going into the hosted server business, as rival IBM seems to have done.

"EMC's core competency is storage systems, management and services," he said. "There are companies like EDS and Accenture that have competency in doing outsourcing. IBM's claim to fame is that they can do it all. It remains to be seen whether they can do it all."

According to previous media reports, HP is rumored to have an application that also promises metered storage, but the company could not immediately provide further details.

CNETAsia's Winston Chai reported from Singapore.