EMC has added greater support for competing storage products from HP, Hitacho and IBM in the latest release of its ControlCentre management software. Version 5.2 will also work better with Linux servers.

It is the first time EMC's flagship software has let storage management tools interoperate with hardware devices from different vendors.

Although ControlCenter 5.2 can't automatically grow or shrink storage for business applications on non-EMC arrays, it can perform so-called storage resource management functions, such as automatic discovery of hardware and monitoring of its health and utilisation. The software can also follow the performance and report on HDS arrays and Linux hosts, EMC said.

Dennis Hoffman, vice president of product marketing for EMC's software products, said the upgrade "fills out" ControlCenter's ability to troubleshoot multivendor storage area networks. EMC already supported Hitachi's 9500V mid-range arrays and HP's StorageWorks XP512 and XP1024 devices. Now, it has added management support for HP's XP48 array - a scaled-down version of the XP512 - and Hitachi's high-end 9900V product line, plus storage switches from Cisco.

Tony Asaro, an analyst at Enterprise Storage, said the most impressive addition to ControlCenter is a wizard-driven installation process. During an upgrade test of Version 5.2 in the company's test lab, "our backup administrator, with no previous ControlCenter experience, performed the initial installation on two ControlCenter infrastructure servers in less than an hour," Asaro said.

By comparison, the last upgrade of ControlCenter on 35 hosts required "lots of user intervention over three days," he said. "We saw a vast improvement in terms of agent deployment and how long it takes."

Barry Ader, director of software product marketing at EMC, said the interoperability with the HDS, IBM and HP hardware is based on application programming interfaces and not SMI-S. "We'd love for the SMI standard to evolve to the point where we can do performance reporting across an entire set of arrays," he said.