Portfolio Approach to the Gold

Watching the Olympic games, I couldn’t help thinking about what it takes for a country to develop a team of athletes capable of winning gold medals in various arenas. When one athlete dominates a sport, that’s a sign of rare, world-class talent. But when multiple athletes from the same country dominate a sport, that’s a sign of a team that has developed a rare ability to outdo competitors repeatedly.

EMC has assembled a best-of-breed portfolio of offerings that covers a carefully defined range of customer needs. While not immune to economic pressures, our customers need to keep driving their businesses forward, sharpen their competitive edge and reduce costs. They are very interested in transformative IT priorities such as cloud, Big Data, and ensuring trust, and we believe customer investments in these areas will continue to outgrow the IT market overall.

People less familiar with our company are often surprised to learn that a great deal of the value that we provide to customers is on the software side of what we offer, whether in information storage, data protection, virtualization, cloud management, content management, security or Big Data analytics. Some of our software technologies we acquired, others we developed organically in our labs. In terms of organic R&D, EMC employs nearly 12,000 engineers worldwide, and about 90 percent of them focus on software.

Integration Adds Value

It’s not enough to simply provide compelling technology. We have to invest in helping our customers use it, through the services we offer and by integrating our products with other technologies in our portfolio and partner ecosystem. Take the way cloud is transforming IT, for example. One of the big challenges with cloud computing is management. Enterprises want to add management capabilities to the virtual infrastructures they have built upon VMware. With this in mind, EMC is evolving storage management to make it easier to configure and manage best-of-breed platforms with standardized programmatic access, automation, and visibility into storage metrics around capacity and performance. The ultimate goal is to help customers achieve a “data-centric” cloud—one that allows traditional and newer scale-out workloads to run seamlessly across shared heterogeneous infrastructure and across data centers. This will simplify complexity and empower customers looking for more efficiency, control and choice with agility.

Back in March, we integrated our storage resource management platform (ProSphere) with fully automated storage tiering for virtual pools (FAST VP) to enable customers to automatically track the consumption of virtual pools and identify when new capacity will be required. In May, we announced new software (DataBridge) that mashes up IT operations data, turning silos of disparate compute, storage and network management information into use-case specific views for better visibility across the infrastructure as part of an IT-as-a-Service deployment. More recently, we acquired a leader in IT performance management software (Watch4net), which consolidates and analyzes performance in one unified platform across multi-vendor, multi-technology environments.

The way we have leveraged Flash technology is a good example of how we integrate industry-standard components and then build software around it. This is the key to delivering value.  Flash is changing how IT infrastructure is done, and we are helping customers leverage Flash functionality with intelligent, automated software that operates across the stack. Not only does this optimize cost-benefit outcomes for customers, it enables us to address a wide variety of use cases in today’s data centers.

We invest heavily in R&D and M&A to develop or acquire capabilities that will solve tomorrow’s needs. Big Data analytics is one of the hottest topics in business today. We started preparing for it quite some time ago. With our rich Big Data tool sets spanning data science, social collaboration, SQL processing and Hadoop for the enterprise, EMC Greenplum is a truly differentiated player in this space, and we are very excited about seizing fast-growing Big Data opportunities. Some of our customers are looking to Big Data to transform their business model, others seek the best tools to get a line of business implementation up and running quickly, while others simply want the ability to do ad hoc queries to find the best answer to a specific question about their business. We see tremendous potential to use Big Data analytics to strengthen IT security and thwart sophisticated attackers who use stealth and precision to evade traditional perimeter defenses.

Trust Transforms the Cloud

Security continues to rank at or near the top of IT priority lists. Our security division, RSA, is championing intelligence-based security that consists of a thorough understanding of risk, use of agile controls based on pattern recognition and predictive analytics, and the use of Big Data analytics to give context to vast streams of data from numerous sources to produce timely, actionable information. Whilst our products do very well individually, customers increasingly embrace the value of their integration. Security products need to work together to provide controls and visibility functions that are based upon agile, predictive analytics and continuous monitoring of massive amounts of data.

Enterprise perimeters and digital assets are harder to defend when workers use file sharing apps in public clouds to get around security policies that limit or slow down file sharing within the enterprise. Because so much data exists in different formats (both inside and outside an enterprise), we understand the importance of enabling collaboration, the way users want it, without the technical limitations and security constraints of traditional file sharing techniques. To that end, we recently acquired Syncplicity, a provider of cloud-based synch and share file management software for businesses. Unlike consumer-oriented alternatives, Syncplicity delivers enterprise capabilities to balance employee productivity and IT governance. To help customers ensure trust in the cloud, we are also developing integrations between RSA and VMware.

Rather than pursue the gold in one competitive arena, we believe we have the right strategy in place to leverage the three major waves of change in IT: cloud, Big Data and trust. We have a great track record of helping our customers through this transformation. We have a best-of-breed product portfolio with breadth and depth that is unique in the industry, and we are fortunate to have a global EMC team that is second to none. Let the games begin!

About the Author: David Goulden