So by now you have probably heard that Dell is planning on acquiring EMC, while leaving VMware as a publicly traded entity. Hot stuff indeed. This has big implications for the IT market as a whole, but I'm most interested in how it sets up change for the big data, database, and analytics space. A few immediate opportunities and a risk are in store:
- One stop shopping for big data infrastructure. EMC brings enterprise storage options, including Isilon, to Dell's server portfolio, including Intel's efforts to improve performance. This creates even more choice of both fully integrated and "pick & mix" solutions, complementing the existing ranges of VCE and Dell's blueprint appliances.
- A richer big data software portfolio. EMC has been recently developing its federation business data lake concept around real world solutions, and leveraging partnerships with Pivotal and Cloudera. Dell has also been working its relationships with Cloudera and others. Add in Statistica, Boomi, and significantly, TOAD for DBAs and DevOps teams, and you have a compelling breadth of analytics packages, plus preparation, integration, and governance offerings.
- The opportunity for more cloud big data. Neither EMC nor Dell has achieved the prestige in big-data-as-a-service (BDaaS) offerings that they might like. Yet together they could build a really powerful cloud platform on differentiated hardware. This might run counter to the "as many cheap servers as you like" approach of Amazon, or the hybrid depth of Microsoft, but it could quickly rival IBM, and HP cloud plays, and overtake the new Google Dataproc. Really up to Dell/EMC to decide if it wants to challenge in this area; this is more of a stretch, but both EMC and Dell would like to be bigger in cloud than they have to date.
Now the risk, which is true of any merger of giants with strong cultures:
- Chaos ensues and it distracts from the execution on the potential above. EMC and Dell have met before, and the eventual outcomes weren't always pretty, in the storage arena at least. Many extremely talented people are going to be asking where they fit, and how they fit together, and that uncertainty could be disruptive enough to cause the combined company to lose momentum or have a minor exodus of smart people. I witnessed Symantec and Veritas go through this 10 years ago, and only now have they acknowledged the mistake and parted ways again.
Whatever happens, it will be fascinating to watch.