EMC: The platform company

Are we ready to add EMC to a list of comprehensive systems and platform vendors that now includes Dell, HP, IBM, and Oracle/Sun?

John Webster Special to CNET News
John, a senior partner at Evaluator Group, has 30 years of experience in enterprise IT storage, spanning mainframe and open systems environments. He has served as principal IT adviser at Illuminata and has held analyst positions at IDC and Yankee Group Research. He also co-authored the book "Inescapable Data Harnessing the Power of Convergence."
John Webster
2 min read

It's Monday morning at EMC World 2011 and EMC Chairman Joe Tucci opens the show with 10,000-plus in the audience. On stage with Tucci are big black boxes. What's wrong with this picture? EMC is no longer a company that can be primarily characterized as a maker of big black boxes. Tucci has engineered a transformation of EMC from an enterprise IT storage box vendor to a provider of computing platforms. Let me count them:

Nos. 1, 2, and 3: Foremost among EMC's platforms is VMware. EMC owns approximately 85 percent of it, but unlike his predecessors in old days of EMC the box company, Tucci has protected the independence of VMware. And it's clear in the response from customers that the independence is greatly appreciated. VMware now dominates the virtual OS landscape. To this, VMware recently added the Cloud Foundry and the VCUBE application "container." Both qualify as platforms in my view.

Nos. 4 and 5: But VMware is not the only EMC platform. The Greenplum database is a platform for big data analytics and now represents the foundation of an EMC data computing division. To that EMC announced, here at this event, the addition of an EMC/Greenplum-branded appliance that runs a commercialized version of the Apache Hadoop data analytics platform.

No. 6: EMC along with Cisco and a growing number of partners are the marketers of a pre-integrated hardware/software computing platform that integrates Cisco servers and networking gear with VMware and EMC storage: the Vblock. Phase I of Vblock was the instantiation of VCE and the introduction of Vblock to the enterprise IT buying community. Phase II was revealed at EMC World. Efforts are under way to stand Vblock up as a new application development environment.

Here, some analogies can be drawn with the venerable mainframe. One source of energy that helped propel the mainframe to dominance decades ago was a vibrant and independent developer community (now known as a partner ecosystem). That aspect of mainframe history is understood by VCE executives. Moreover, some VCE customers are now engaged in projects aimed at re-hosting mainframe applications on Vblock--a non-trivial exercise for sure.

No. 7: EMC has transformed its Documentum acquisition into Documentum xCP, a platform that converges structured data and unstructured content. EMC has also integrated xCP with the Greenplum database so that Documentum's content repository can be used as a data source for Greenplum analytics processes. And here at EMC World, EMC announced the availability of VCUBE-encapsulated, "OnDemand" versions of the Documentum repository, Captiva, CenterStage, and Document Sciences.

So, are we ready to add EMC to a list of comprehensive systems and platform vendors that now includes Dell, HP, IBM, and Oracle/Sun? I am. Tucci has brought about a transformation that is nothing short of amazing.