Big Blue…..Big Borg!

By | July 29, 2006

I was recently contacted by an agency who were hiring for EMC. There is nothing out of the ordinary about this, as I freelance and am currently looking for my next position. There is one slightly strange thing – I don’t advertise myself as an EMC consultant so why on earth would EMC be interested in me? Not wanting to waste anyone’s time I made sure the agency were aware that I probably wasn’t the right person for the job due to the lack of in depth EMC experience on my CV/resume. It was the reply email from the agency that got me thinking… I quote from the email reply I got from the agency "….We do actually have potential interest from EMC as they are increasingly moving into the IBM field ….." So…. EMC are having a go at being IBM.

OK I’m aware that I’m not exactly breaking a news story that everyone doesn’t already know, but it got me thinking a little. If this is true, and EMC are moving into the so called IBM field where does this leave the other storage vendors who are not making this type of move? Is the landscape of the storage world about to change and will those who don’t follow be able to compete?

I read recently that according to Gartner (I know I know!!) IBM still has the Lions share of the Global storage market (Article Here). Now I think we all know that this is not because its storage products are so superior everyone else’s. In my opinion this domination is in some way down to the fact that they can go in and start running a companies IT department and before you know it, all of the kit in the server rooms is black with IBM logos on it. Some companies may resist for a while but eventually they all realise that "resistance is futile" and find themselves "assimilated" just like the rest.

I know of companies who have had a lot of non-IBM kit on the ground and have invested a lot into that kit and were reluctant to just "can it all" and move to IBM kit. However, once IBM are through the door things change. Suddenly its easier and a more pleasant experience pulling your own teeth out than trying to order another vendors kit. It takes longer, is more complicated than previously and eventually it just "kind of makes sense" to take the easy route and order IBM.

Now my point is not to slam IBM, far from it, they have an extremely successful business model here and of course they don’t want to keep buying other vendors kit – why would they! My point is – this is the cold hard truth about how things work, and how can others compete? Obviously EMC seem to fancy having a crack at the IBM approach themselves. HP may have the portfolio to be able to compete. But what about others? I cant help but think about little old HDS.

Didn't this all happen once before in the mainframe market? Didn't Hitachi and IBM once compete in the mainframe market with Hitachi eventually making a strategic withdrawal because they couldn’t compete with IBM? Wasn’t one of the main reasons Hitachi couldn’t compete with IBM was because Hitachi only made the "tin" and not the software as well, whereas IBM made both so could cleverly offset the costs of the hardware against the software. Basically IBM could give the hardware away for cheap/free and make their money back from the software sales. Could the same thing start to change the landscape of the storage world?

Could we see vendors who don’t offer the more "complete solution" eventually squeezed out? As we've seen recently almost every vendor has been extremely busy buying up companies and striking up partnerships in order to keep up with the competition. It’s already not enough just to make/sell great storage, you have to have a complete package – ILM, tape backup…..

Hmmmmm…. may be I’m way off the mark and have my haed in the clouds. If I keep on going I may end up starting rumors of an EMC falvour of Unix running EMCs own server hardware platform.. Like I say, the email from the agency just set me off thinking so I thought Id put some of those thoughts up here on RM.

4 thoughts on “Big Blue…..Big Borg!

  1. Mark

    EMC already owns it’s own Unix and had it’s own server platform. DG/UX and Aviion were part of the DG acquisition.

    In the era of commodity servers and Linux there’s no point in being in that market though.

  2. mackem

    Thanks for pointing that out Mark. With me not being an EMC person I guess I missed that one in the million or so acquisitions EMC have made recently 😉

  3. Ilja Coolen

    It also works the other way around. Just have a look at the Document Management field.
    EMC does have e bit of a head start on document managment after having bought Documentum a while back. IBM is now catchin’ up on EMC by incorperating FileNet.
    Also in the Virtualization field something similar is happening. EMC does have a great advantage due to VMWare. Which is a great product (to my oppinion). This is a bit why IBM tries to promote it’s support on the Xen development.

    I sometimes wonder how things would look like in about ten years. How many vendors will remain alive, and which ones will vanish….

  4. Chuck

    I have to stop choking long enough to reply to Ilja’s comments on EMC and VMWare. While I agree the VMWare is a fine product with great leadership in the Intel space let’s not forget that IBM (or was it Amdahl?) really started virtualization on the mainframe and IBM has continued to expand that technology to Unix (AIX and pSeries) and OS/400. Let’s also include storage virtualization, over 2,000 SVC customers and 15 PB of virtualized storage is somewhat of an accomplishment by IBM as well as tape with the VTS. So, yes EMC made a great purchase and has done well by VMWare but I am not ready to place the crown of virtualization leadership upon their heads.

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