Joe Tucci and company made a strategic decision several years ago not to enter the public cloud provider fray. Instead they took the vendor high road by indicating they would partner with cloud providers instead of competing with them. In a reversal of that strategy, EMC is now pivoting to the public cloud via their federated entity, VirtuStream.
Among a bevy of announcements at the opening of the annual EMC World show today, EMC announced the launching of VirtuStream’s "Global Hyper-scale Storage Cloud For Seamless Enterprise Storage Extensibility, Backup and Cloud-Native Object Storage”. This particular announcement, amongst the other ones planned over the next three days, is designed to play into a larger theme of “Modernize Your Data Center”; the official tag line of EMC World 2016.
This announcement did not come as a major surprise to me. Right after Dell announced they would be acquiring EMC, I speculated in a video blog that Dell would likely enter the pubic cloud provider space and use VirtuStream as their differentiated offering. What ensued, however, was a rather high stakes drama. VirtuStream initially was going to be folded into VMware as part of a potential vCloud Air play, but Gelsinger and company apparently demurred over integrating VirtuStream into VMware’s cloud technology portfolio. Consequently a new strategy was needed to bring this “pearl” into the unified Federation of EMC companies. Hence today’s announcement.
To many this may appear like a very late-stage attempt at competing with some of the mammoth cloud providers like AWS, Microsoft and Google for enterprise cloud storage business. After all, each of these cloud entities have been offering hyper-scale storage on the cheap for many years. The apparent difference, however, is EMC is positioning this offering as a seamless way for EMC customers to gain hybrid cloud extensibility that delivers performance, extreme resiliency and web scale for mission-critical (emphasis mine) data.
VirtuStream made their mark on the industry by devising a cloud architecture that can provide high performance and reliability for complex business systems like SAP. Due to security and performance concerns, however, many traditional enterprise organizations have been reluctant to push their most critical business workloads into the public cloud.
Still, this could be a way for EMC (and Dell) to gain public cloud market share; particularly since they maintain such a huge footprint across many large enterprise accounts. Another tailwind that could potentially work in EMC's favor is that nearly half of the IT respondents to ESG’s survey on hybrid cloud trends (login required) indicated they would be leaning on their traditional vendor partners to ease the transition to hybrid cloud computing capabilities.
It seems that a natural, and relatively low-risk way for EMC clients to kick the VirtuStream tires is to start with backup and DR workloads. EMC Data Domain backup appliances and the EMC Data Protection Suite are supporting the VirtuStream Cloud-Storage Platform on day one. Smart move as ESG continues to track backup and DR as strong cloud use cases for businesses of all sizes. Over time, however, the trick will be convincing these cloud backup and DR clients to migrate their most business sensitive workloads into the VirtuStream cloud.