EMC Pulls the Pieces Together

CEO Joe Tucci develops big plans for software, systems and services.

Chief executive Joe Tucci is transforming EMC Corp. from a successful storage hardware maker to a developer of software that manages the data sitting in those disk arrays. At the EMC Analyst Day event in New York this month, Tucci predicted his Hopkinton, Mass., company would reach $8.1 billion in revenue this year, with much of the new growth coming from the sale of software created by EMCs newly formed Software Group, which combines the Documentum and Legato software businesses that EMC acquired last year. Tucci said at the event that server virtualization software developer VMware Inc., which EMC purchased early this year, will continue to operate independently. eWEEK Editor in Chief Eric Lundquist and Senior Writer Brian Fonseca discussed EMCs future with Tucci at the event.

Are you trying to take on too much? How do you balance off software and solutions with making sure you keep the hardware stream coming?

First of all, the world loves labels, right? We obviously have a hardware business, which is run by Dave Donatelli. We have a software business, [and] we have a services business. Software and services is about 52 percent of our business, and hardware is 48. Both are very important to us, and both are growing. Theyre all very much focused on a singular market: [managing] information. And VMware is a one-off—thats a phenomenal little company, Ill tell ya.

Hardware, software and services—sounds like IBM.

They have their systems business, they have their services business and then they have their software business. So its very similar. Theyre covering the whole waterfront, and Im saying were focusing around everything to do with information. Fixed content, unstructured content—if its about information, were interested, and were focusing on a much narrower area.

Do you feel you have all the pieces now and you just have to start revving it faster and making it work better together, or are there still some aspects you need?

I dont think there are holes or missing pieces, but there are always things you can add to make it that much better. I will never be satisfied because I think, once youre satisfied, maybe thats the beginning of the end. I think thats one of the things that happened to us back in 2001. We were satisfied, and we had convinced ourselves we had a two-year read [on the market] and then got caught by the competition. ... So youll never get me to use that word "satisfied," but we have the pieces to be successful.

One of the difficulties IBM had after acquiring lots of pieces is customers asking, "Whats the administration tool that sits over all of them? How do I know whats going on there?" Thats a chunk you still have to develop, isnt it?

We have a pretty good chunk there with ControlCenter (see story, right). Weve been ratcheting ControlCenter up over the years—this isnt something were starting from scratch. This is the framework that has what I call the male and female plugs. So you can take it and plug into a [Computer Associates International Inc.] Unicenter or [an IBM] Tivoli [systems management application]. On the other side, you can plug other pieces of software into that.

So some of these other [vendors] have had some of their own kind of monitors; what we have to do there is take that monitor and plug into the other side of ControlCenter. So you have all the plug-ins. So, for instance, a customer could have, say, an IBM array behind an EMC array. And all they have to do is say, "Replicate this data to here from there." And the way IBM does it, and the way EMC does it, is through totally different calls—and code bases and everything else, obviously. But the user wont care. Thats one of the things ControlCenter is set up to do.

Next Page: The problem of unstructured data.