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SAN FRANCISCO—EMC President and CEO Joe Tucci leaked a key bit of information Feb. 6 at a standing room-only press conference at the RSA Security Conference 2007 that a number of EMC’s competitors may find very interesting.

EMC, which already sells more storage hardware and software than any single vendor on the planet, is currently researching—and apparently will pursue—an online archiving (called vaulting) service strategy in 2007.

This bit of news may become important to a number of vendors and VARs large and small now cropping up in the rapidly growing storage market.

The idea of outsourcing all of a company’s data to an online service vendor—especially in the SMB market—is starting to trend up. For example, the Baltimore Ravens last fall turned over all their business and customer data to the care of AmeriVault, an EMC partner, and divested themselves of their entire onsite storage apparatus.

Now the team pays a monthly fee (per gigabyte of storage) to AmeriVault, which harvests the new data each evening and stores it safely several states away. Yet, the data is completely accessible at any time by the Ravens.

Other companies, such as Hewlett-Packard, Comcast, AT&T, CommVault and a number of startups also are in the online vaulting business. If EMC, the 800-pound gorilla of storage, heads into online vaulting, it would be similar to Microsoft moving into basically any IT market.

“I disagree with it [online outsourcing] as a trend,” Tucci told the packed room of reporters and analysts at the Moscone Center. “I don’t think that’s the case right now. It is very difficult—and mostly unwise—to separate your servers and your data—especially for large enterprises.”

Click here to read about EMC’s comfortable lead in the worldwide storage software market.

However, Tucci said, it’s another thing to keep a backup copy of your data archived offsite or online with a trusted partner or service. “You can keep a vaulted copy of an archive very safely,” Tucci said.

“For companies that have to keep e-mail for seven years, for example, data vaulting for backup is good. Comcast, AT&T and Verizon will store rich media for you online … but there’s no market for [large corporations storing everything online] it’s not going to happen. That paradigm isn’t even a little bit feasible.”

That’s when Tucci leaked the surprise: “You will see EMC playing there [in the online arena] this year,” Tucci said.

The RSA Security Conference 2007 continues through Friday of this week.