Portable storage vendor Iomega plans to set up a separate business unit to market and sell its backup and data management software, independently of its sales of storage products. Some of these applications will be developed to work not only with its own storage products but those from other vendors as well. Iomega's software products have been typically bundled with its storage products like the Zip, Jaz, and Clik drives. "Historically within Iomega the software development team in the US has been primarily focused on being a support arm to the hardware team. So its role was to provide the drivers, and the core software that interfaces to the drive," said Germaine Ward, vice president of software solutions at Iomega. "Over the past two years there has been a whole lot more of focus on developing standalone applications that help drive solutions." Last year, for instance, Iomega launched a backup application called Quik Sync that enables the backup of active files without user intervention. Going forward, Iomega aims to create a separate revenue stream in software, by selling its software applications independently of the drives. "We are going to start selling these as common accessories to our drives, as some of this software works only with our drives, but very quickly after that, we actually want to sell software that may or may not require the use of our drives," added Ward. That said, Iomega will not make available for other vendors' storage products any software that it thinks differentiates its hardware. According to Russell G Polson, director for software applications research and development at Iomega, initially the company will offer applications on Windows and Mac OS, though it also plans to offer software for Linux and other operating systems as well. Besides adding new products to its current data management and backup solutions, Iomega will expand into new products that address the Internet market. Ward admits that Iomega is not known for software, but hopes to leverage its brand name nonetheless. "The Iomega brand name means easy-to-use, means friendly, means high quality, means removable storage today," added Ward. "So we can take the first three things, and apply that to software." Ward and Polson were in India this week to meet with software companies in Chennai and Bangalore with an eye to outsourcing software development.In the initial stages, the Indian developers will be working primarily on porting Iomega applications to Windows, Mac OS and Linux platforms. Later, though, the Indian developers will also be doing full product development, the company officials said. "Initially we are going to have some very critical needs for porting because we definitely want to get into Linux. That is a short term goal for us, by which I mean this year," said Ward. " Again, there is opportunity to get more Java applications. That is a core competency that is clearly evident here, that we don't have within our development teams." The development work in embedded software and firmware that goes into its drives will however continue to be done in-house by Iomega in the US.