Is it EMC's technology or the organization that's evolving? You could find proponents of both arguments at this week's EMC World technology conference May 5-8 in Las Vegas.
EMC, the mothership, has been partially spinning off companies with the goal of aligning itself with the social, mobile and cloud trends rattling through the enterprise space. Now, the trick is to reassemble VMware, Pivotal, RSA and the re-energized pieces of EMC without hindering the individual companies and while offering products and services to its big enterprise customers that are striving to compete with agile startups that are Web-savvy from the get-go.
The theme of this year's event is "Redefine," and that is exactly what the traditional tech vendors and their customers need to accomplish or risk being the Digital Equipment Corp. (which was held up in a couple of presentations here as a stellar tech company that fell off the cliff) of the current era.
Jeremy Burton, the newly promoted president of products and marketing for EMC's core information infrastructure business, described the federated model as "alignment on strategy but free to operate independently."
That alignment will be important as EMC strives to provide a software-driven technology architecture that automates provisioning for server, storage and network resources while providing the development environment geared to agile, mobile and cloud-based applications.
Last year's EMC World was based largely on promises that the company was going to catch up to the mobile, social, cloud world unfolding for big Web-scale companies and adroit startups. This year's conference was more about delivering on the promises. The need to deliver was underscored by customer stories regarding the requirement for a tool set to match the nimble startups.
The list of new products and services introduced at this year's show is long. But most of them buttressed EMC's claim that the hybrid model for enterprise computing melding on-premises services with public services is the model that most of the larger enterprises will adopt. The EMC strategy seems firmer than rivals IBM and Microsoft, which continue to redefine their cloud offerings.
The product introductions at EMC World included the Product Nile on-premises cloud storage appliance renamed the Elastic Cloud Storage appliance. EMC notes its appliance is based on commodity storage devices and claims that the appliance approach in larger configurations offers up to a 28 percent total cost of ownership advantage over Amazon's and Google's public cloud storage offerings. The appliance uses the new version of EMC's ViPR storage control and data plane management.
The company also acquired the secretive flash storage startup DSSD founded by Andy Bechtolsheim, co-founder of Sun Microsystems. The acquisition adds to EMC's solid-state memory offerings even as the company claims it sold more than 17 petabytes of flash capacity in the 2014 first quarter.
Aligning the product and service sets of VMware, Pivotal, RSA and EMC is a substantial undertaking, but EMC has a strong record of successful acquisitions. EMC's buyout of VMware in 2004 is widely seen as one of the most successful corporate acquisitions in the technology industry.
In discussing the EMC federation, Burton said the combination of the companies' services will help spur an essential restructuring of the role of corporate IT departments. Restructured IT departments will be able to accomplish four goals: provide access to all applications and data through mobile devices; use agile development to build new customer-centric applications; create a "data lake" to deliver greater corporate insights in real time; and enable the transition to a software-defined data center that's been transformed into a hybrid cloud capable of using outside services, but also able to respond to the new evolving security threat landscape.
Eric Lundquist is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Lundquist, who was editor-in-chief at eWEEK (previously PC WEEK) from 1996-2008, authored this article for eWEEK to share his thoughts on technology, products and services. No investment advice is offered in this article. All duties are disclaimed. Lundquist works separately for a private investment firm, which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this article and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made.