Storage Informer
Storage Informer

EMC World Wrap Up

by on May.21, 2009, under Storage

EMC World Wrap Up

EMC logo EMC World Wrap Up

I’m sorry. I really intended to spend more time blogging about EMC World this week, but I just got caught up in the whirlwind of so much activity, and now I’m forced to take more of a retrospective view. It…

I’m sorry.

I really intended to spend more time blogging about EMC World this week, but I just got caught up in the whirlwind of so much activity, and now I’m forced to take more of a retrospective view.

It got so crazy that I literally let myself get scheduled in two places at the exact same time.  I really wanted to go to the EMC Blogger’s meet & greet on Tuesday, but I found myself being the Master of Ceremonies for part of our presales conference at the exact same time.

My apologies and regrets for not being able to join my social brethren at that meet up.

But — that being said — there’s a pile of interesting observations I’d like to share.

NetApp Makes (Non)News

The most interesting topic of discussion Wednesday evening was NetApp’s acquisition of Data Domain for $1.5B.  Regular readers of this blog know that I can be pretty hard on NetApp from time to time, but in this case, I don’t have to state the obvious — this acquisition says more about the industry and the relative futures of the players than they’d probably like.

Of all the analysis, I found myself agreeing mostly with Steve Duplessie’s and Chris Mellor’s take on all of this. 

My take:

  • Data Domain got a fantastic price for their company — well timed and well negotiated, it seems.  NetApp will fare less well, though.  As we are prone to say, data dedupe is a feature that will eventually end up in all parts of the infrastructure.  It is not a product nor a platform.
  • This acquisiition says a lot about how NetApp views itself and its future prospects.  NetApp needs to find some quick hits for revenue and growth — their traditional story seems to be getting thin and tiresome to customers and investors alike.  Previous plays didn’t work out so well (Topio, Onaro, Spinnaker) — but this one seems to be more about product distribution than technology and strategy synergy.
     
  • Single-purpose dedupe products seem to be on an inevitable death spiral from a business model perspective.  To make a market out of it, you need to be substantially better as a pure play than the feature-based alternatives, which means a far more narrow market, and your entire value proposition is now based on how much money you can save. 

    Sure, there’s a pocket of opportunity to be mined, but the long term prospects for being a pure-play dedupe vendor seem unappealing at best.  Almost as attractive as being a pure-play compression vendor.

One theme that was picked in almost all the commentary — the IT industry continues to consolidate, including the inevitable “deduping” of the smaller niche players. 

And we’ll inevitably see more questionable deals as a result.

Private Clouds and Virtualization

Sure, there were lots of cloudy discussions at EMC World, but despite the usual buzzword frenzy that tradeshows can generate, there are some important themes here.

  • Over time, more and more IT will be delivered as a service rather than through owning and operating the technology yourself.  Call it a cloud, call it whatever — we’ve seen the transition to various aspects of IT being delivered as a service begin in earnest.
  • For enterprise IT users, the private cloud model (discussed at some length on these posts), is uniquely attractive: logical progression, supports existing applications, IT retains control, etc.  I am unequivocal in stating that this will be the dominant enterprise IT infrastructure model going forward.
  • Virtualization (specifically VMware) is leading the transition to the private cloud.  By encapsulating the vast majority of desktop and server workloads, and transforming individual IT components into a single giant pool, it is the logical contender to lay the pathway to private clouds.
     
  • And — perhaps the most controversial part of this — in order to get the benefits of cloud in our IT environments, we’re going to have to learn to manage them like clouds.  And that’s going to be hard.

The next logical step in this progression is helping customers to virtualize their most important “tier 1″ applications.  We did some of this work last year, but now that we have access to vSphere, newer Nehalem-based servers, 10Gb fabrics and enterprise flash drives — quite frankly, it’ll be the rare workload indeed that can’t be virtualized if we want to.

And, of course, once you virtualize the big apps, the entire infrastructure and management process comes into sharp focus :-)

I’ll let you know how this progresses during the year.

So Many New Things To Play With

One thing that came out loud and clear from everyone who attended is that there was just so much that was “new” — from the Symmetrix V-Max to the new SourceOne to the new capabilities in Documentum, RSA, VMware, etc. etc. — there’s just so much to take in, and figure out how to use it all.

I don’t think anyone came away from the conference being bored.  If anything, we’re throwing too much at people these days.  But I think they like it :-)

Optimism Returns To The IT Professional?

I’ll say it again — the outlook was incredibly positive from almost all the people I met at EMC World.  I heard the same thing from many others as well. 

We seem to have moved beyond the doom-and-gloom life-really-sucks outlook of just a few months ago and firmly towards the newer opportunities that lie ahead for all of us.

I’m just glad so many of these IT optimists are associated with EMC — our employees, our partners and our valued customers. 

Makes working here more fun, it does.

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