Expectations for Dell/EMC World 2016

How will the companies combine their storage lines and what will their strategy look like for EMC's subsidiaries?
Posted October 14, 2016

Rob Enderle

Dell/EMC World is next week, and I’m actually looking forward to it this year. I’ve been close to both EMC and Dell for an extended period, and I find the merger between the two firms fascinating—largely because what they did was the third seemingly impossible thing in a row. First they took Dell private which was thought to be impossible. Then as a private company, they bought EMC, which was larger and not distressed (so full price), and finally, after overcoming the regulatory hurdles, the resulting merger was largely complete, not just getting started, as is more commonly the case. I’m in awe at all of this because convention wisdom said that none of it was even remotely possible.

Now we have Dell/EMC World, and I’m looking for some new answers.

My Dell World To-Do List

While there wasn't a lot of overlap between the two companies, one area where they did compete was in storage. So I’ll be looking to see how the Dell and EMC products which are in conflict (mostly in the mid-market) are rationalized and how customers on the platforms to be discontinued will be taken care of. Both firms had strong reputations with regard to customer care, and EMC was strongest. This bodes well for firms on the discontinued platforms, but I still would like to know the details.

I’d also like to see clarification with regard to the strategies surrounding EMC’s unique subsidiaries like VMware, RSA and Pivotal. Pivotal is particularly interesting because it represents a mammoth potential software capability for the firm. RSA is one of the most powerful security firms in the industry but really wasn’t even used strategically by EMC. VMware competes with Microsoft, one of Dell’s strongest allies, and offers a strange balance of VDI (which Microsoft now seems to like) and virtualization (which Microsoft doesn’t seem to like at all). In addition, it has been widely rumored that Dell might spin one or more out of these subsidiaries farther from the firm. Since these entities are largely independent today, the “spin out” part shouldn’t be a concern, but if they instead spun them in more strategically, that could be interesting.

Strangely, I don’t care that much about Dell’s cloud or IoT strategies even though these are typically hot topics. Like EMC, Dell mostly followed the course of equipping the cloud not competing with products like Azure or AWS, so I don’t think there will be any merger-related news there. And IoT is still pretty much in its infancy and was mostly a Dell/Intel effort. I don’t expect any changes there either.

One area I am looking for is whether Dell is moving in any significant way into the automotive market. Apple, Google, Qualcomm, Intel and even NVIDIA are exploring this market, and it represents one of the biggest technology growth areas as we move to autonomous vehicles. Not only do the cars look more and more like moving computers, they will be increasingly connected to robust back ends which will be like air traffic controllers on steroids.

Finally, another growth area are robots, with a range of products that includes drones. Here also, a number of Dell peers and partners plan on entering the segment or have entered, and I wonder if Dell is yet looking at this opportunity.

One More Thing: Customer Service

Dell/EMC World this year will undoubtedly have updates from every functional group from PCs to servers, from small appliances to VCE, and from services to support. It strikes me there is one massively important area I missed and that is Dell Technology’s new customer loyalty program. Last time I checked, they were going to implement EMC’s far more advanced offering, and I’ve already been hearing that HPE accounts are massively pivoting to Dell Technology thanks to their experiences with EMC flash storage. I am curious to see how much more progress they have made, and if you are an HPE account, I’ll bet you do too.

In the end it will be an interesting week. I’ll write about what I find out when I come back.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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