Is It Still EMC’s World? (Part 2 of 2)

Is it still EMC’s World? (Part 2 of 2)

As I started my is-it-still-emcs-world-part-1-of-2/index.html" target="_blank">last Blog: “Sometimes a little distance is good in order to get a perspective on things. I certainly think that’s true of big vendor events….while you’re there it’s all too easy to drown in the Kool-Aid, so a week or two to dry off and evaluate in a more objective spirit is probably best.” I went on to cover my main thoughts about this year’s EMC World: basically being happy that there was no big new technology theme or grandiose aspiration. However there were 42 new announcements and clearly every presenter talked about the strategic direction for their part of the EMC colossus. So, without repeating the press releases, what are some of the more specific pieces of news – and direction – that I took away from Vegas?

  1. With the theme of the conference being ‘Transform’ I was interested in the extent that this was reflected by EMC itself. While Joe Tucci joked that "We have a big position in storage, as you might know" (!) what was clear is that storage in its most raw form is becoming less important to EMC at about the same rate as storage in its most general way is become more important to VMware. Bottom line? Things are becoming converged, with storage as an integrated part of an IT whole. Sure, we knew that intuitively, but I haven’t heard it quite so clearly before. And the emphasis on terms like trust, security, and channel commitment all give emphasis to the transformation at EMC. Even the private analyst break-outs were strikingly more open, unstructured and frank than in years prior.
  2. There were some key moves, announcements, and ‘intimations’ in existing focus areas, all buoyed by a continued commitment to around 11% of revenues being directed to R+D. Via a complex (and academically questionable) science analogy Pat Gelsinger wanted us to understand that ‘data is the new center of gravity for IT’….as if to emphasize that one size doesn’t fit all, he then covered the key elements of the 42-strong ‘mega-launch.’ Storage-wise there was the VMAX 40K, with a huge increase in performance and capacity; although I find the extension of FAST management to Hitachi and IBM more interesting in the ‘big picture’ world. VMAX-SP is a new product version with code and applicability to make a [cloud] storage service provider’s life easier….and there was the faster, more secure and better-featured Isilon, together with the self-describing ‘OneFS’ (Mavericks) product. Although there were software improvements to the VNX (and VNXe) family, the main emphasis there was some – fair – chest-thumping regarding market success: 6000 new customers, 1EB shipped, and 32000 units is certainly noticeable! Of course, every system these days is, it seems, using flash and (to borrow someone else’s phrase) EMC is not only happy to be the Baskin Robbins of solid-state, but continues to add flavors: the newly acquired all-flash Xtreme-io product won’t ship ‘til 2013, but meantime we have the ‘server-network-based’ Thunder joining the existing VFCache (the first product from the Lightning business unit at EMC). And it went on…there were improvements for DataDomain, Avamar, and the VSPEX news, plus better management via the DataBridge control mashup. 42 news items is a lot! Snuck in there was something that I found particularly interesting – the news that EMC is planning to allow storage to run VMs (2013), and then also to be able to run storage platforms on VMs (VPLEX goes first here...).
  3. I liked Paul Maritz’s portrayal of the history of IT being boiled down to just 2 eras – the first being the automation of a paper-based world; and the second being a cloud-based world. In high-level terms he talked of this as data and insights being available ‘wherever, whatever, and in context.' Not surprisingly VMware could, and would, be central to this, but Maritz also spoke of ‘CloudFoundry’ – an open source, portability layer to ensure that clouds don't become (his neat analogy) 'Hotel Californias,' where you can check in but you can't check out! The idea of playing in a technology meritocracy where vendor tier-in is minimized is not only good to hear but is a long way down the road from the traditional EMC. It’s a transformation (there’s that word again!) not just for the industry but for the greater EMC-VMware complex, to a world where the aim is to make infrastructure invisible; and that leads me to my closing thought…

The title of my last two blogs has been “Is it still EMC’s World?” I think the answer is both - ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ Joe Tucci reaffirmed that the company still has a technology heart and soul, and that it does not want to be a [cloud] services provider. Clearly it has its fingers in many pies and massive market presence; to that extent its leadership remains ‘its own to lose.’ Certainly it will be a very different company in a few years from now (although that’s something it has done before) – which no doubt will be all about convergence, cloud, and a software bent. I just wonder when it stops being ‘EMC’s World,’ and bows to the inevitable of being ‘VMware’s World?'

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure