Storage Informer
Storage Informer

The Cone Of Silence Is Lifted

by on Jul.20, 2009, under Storage

Data Domain: The Cone Of Silence Is Lifted

EMC logo Data Domain: The Cone Of Silence Is Lifted

You may or may not know that — during an acquisition — we are very limited as to what we can say. Rather than run afoul of various mysterious rules and regulations, we all just feel it’s better if we…

You may or may not know that — during an acquisition — we are very limited as to what we can say. 

Rather than run afoul of various mysterious rules and regulations, we all just feel it’s better if we clam up until the deal is actually done.

Well, this morning we were informed that — for all intents and purposes – we can start talking about the acquisition publicly.

This post covers what it means to EMC, Data Domain and Data Domain’s customers. 

I’d like to write a subsequent post at some point with what this means to NetApp — especially in the broader context of industry consolidation and go-forward strategies.  And it ain’t pretty.

So let’s dive in, shall we?

The Core Of A New Business

The internal letter was pretty clear and unambiguous: Data Domain will eventually be a full product division within EMC.

This means that — over time — they will likely be the core orchestrator of all related EMC assets in this space — engineering, partnering, go-to-market, support, etc. 

This is roughly analogous to what happened with other acquisitions: EMC has a bunch of related assets, we acquire a centerpiece, make them the core, and continue to integrate and innovate around that core.

It’s a play we know well.

What Technology Assets Could Fit?

The list of potential EMC assets that could potentially play one way or another with Data Domain is quite extensive. 

Disclaimer: none of these are commitments, just idle speculation on the kinds of things that are possible once you juxtapose Data Domain across the broader EMC.

This sort of hybridization can be very powerful — we’ve already done it with a number of technology acquisitions.  It takes time to sort out the roadmap, do the integration work, productize, etc. — but it’s all interesting stuff.

So … let’s take a tour around the EMC portfolio, shall we?

On the hardware side, we’ve got some nice storage target devices to choose from that complement what Data Domain is selling today: CLARiiON, V-Max, Celerra, Centera, Atmos — even Iomega!  Potentially these might be sold as an integrated appliance, or as a software target — lots of interesting scenarios there.

Next up, the EMC backup and recovery portfolio: the NetWorker suite that does not only all the classical backup/restore stuff (using a variety of mechanisms), but EMC’s Data Protection Advisor (DPA) which has found a strong following from people who need to manage this stuff at a service delivery level.

Can’t forget Avamar either — the industry’s premier client-side dedupe which now can be paired in interesting ways with the industry’s premeir target-side dedupe.

Celerra — in particular — has a nice abstraction where files can be stored in dedupe format transparently from the access mechanism — another interesting potential pairing.  That same abstraction might make sense for other EMC storage platforms as well.

And, of course, there’s RSA security, Ionix end-to-end management, EMC’s general proficiency and differentiation with VMwareand fully virtualized environments, and — well — there’s no shortage of cool things to look at.

There’s more I could share, but I think you get the picture.

What Integration Assets Could Fit?

EMC spends a lot of time and money bringing pieces together — not only technology integrations, but qualification, solutioneering, etc. — basically making sure all the pieces work together as a complete environment that’s fully characterized, supported, documented, etc.

I guess the first starting point is EMC’s eLab — still the industry standard for device-level interoperability and qualification.  Right away, you can see the Data Domain product being qualified as part of larger and/or more complex topologies, backed by EMC’s methodologies and customer service.

And then there’s the EMC Proven Solution effort that’s focused primarily on fully virtualized environments running tier 1 applications such as Exchange, SAP, Oracle et. al.  Won’t be too long before Data Domain is part of that party as well.

There’s also a few specialized labs of note — in particular the newer VCE lab (VMware, Cisco and EMC), which represents a rather largish investment focused on building private clouds built on virtualization for both enterprises and service providers.

Again, plenty here that makes the Data Domain capabilities potentially even more valuable and attractive in an EMC context over time.

What Go-To-Market Assets Could Fit?

I know most people outside the industry don’t think much about go-to-market strategies, preferring instead to debate the pros and cons of different technologies, but — in the final analysis — nothing really succeeds unless there’s an efficient way for it to reach a mass audience.

And there the picture is potentially very interesting.

Of course, we’ve got our worldwide direct sales force — already engaged in storage and backup discussions, and already selling complementary technologies.  Data Domain just plugs in to this effort.

We’ve also have a specialized sales force that works with customers having more modest requirements, and brings in a wide range of partners, resellers and integrators in doing so.  Again, another plug in.

Not to mention our existing engagements with OEMs, global system integrators, outsourcers and service providers — again, more synergy from an existing market engagement model that’s already focused in this space.

And, finally, there’s EMC’s professional services that can assess a requirement, do the integration, create the run book, and event run the entire environment in a managed services context.  All potentially very complementary, if you think about it.

And Let’s Not Forget Customer Service

One thing EMC is known for is best-in-class customer service.  We’ve built the business largely on that reputation.  Bringing EMC’s global customer services capabilities to any acquired product removes an important set of concerns for many customers, making it easier to move ahead with newer technology.

Again, more synergy.

Feel Free To Criticize

Everyone has their opinion about this acquisition — was it a good idea, was it a fair price, what was the real rationale, etc. Some people just don’t like it when EMC does something smart.

People are free to speculate as they see fit — as they always will do — but from where I sit, there is a real and tangible 1+1=5 scenario here.

Data Domain employees win.  Data Domain partners win.  Data Domain customers win.  EMC customers, employees and stakeholders win.

You just have to look at it the right way.

Welcome Aboard, Data Domain .. And Your Customers

There’s already been some great communication and interaction with the Data Domain team, and — again, from where I sit — we’re all excited to have this great team as part of the EMC family.

And, to all of Data Domain’s customers, I’d encourage you to ignore all the competitive FUD you’re likely to hear over the next few months.  None of it will be true, I’ll assure you now.

We know how to do this integration stuff … we’ve done it many times before, with great resutls for everyone.  And this should be no different.

Only great things are ahead …

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