Interoperability the key for EMC

Interoperability can be defined as making large amounts of information readily available to more people, which in turn, makes the information more valuable.

And that value proposition applies more than ever to federal agencies with their multiple technology offerings and legacy systems, according to executives from storage giant EMC Corp.

That's why EMC has made its solutions "agnostic" in regard to hardware, operating environments and applications, said Don Swatik, vice president of global alliances for EMC. Using the company's solutions, even if two agencies merged, they could be integrated easily, Swatik said during a panel discussion on data interoperability at the FOSE trade show Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

EMC's federal customers include the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the Library of Congress, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Secret Service, the Internal Revenue Service and the Air Force. And the agencies' projects are as varied as their missions, said Scott Sherman, EMC's director of business development.

At USPTO, the focus is on making sure the agency can accept data from systems worldwide; the Secret Service's goal is critical infrastructure protection; and the Air Force consolidated from four Microsoft Corp. Windows NT servers to one, Sherman said.

Sherman said a key reason that EMC has had success in the federal space is because of its willingness to work with agencies on their vision for a cohesive data strategy. "They are really planning today on a migration path for their current and future architecture," he said. "There's a vision, and we have got to get there together."

On the application side, EMC has forged development partnerships with more than 70 companies that write code to collaborate with EMC's storage operating system's open interface, Swatik said.

He also mentioned the ECOstructure initiative—a major effort launched last year that has EMC working with Cisco Systems Inc., and Oracle Corp. Engineers from the three companies work together on "blueprints" that provide integrated guidelines documenting the design, implementation, operation, and support of EMC, Cisco and Oracle's combined Internet-based business solutions.

The trio released two blueprints last year that were popular with government customers looking for Web-enabled IT infrastructures. More blueprints are coming "in the near future," the EMC executives said.

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