A Dell merger with EMC would bring together some powerful, complementary assets, but whether the massive $67 billion deal will bring what it takes to compete with Amazon Web Services (AWS) is less clear.
Of Dell’s purchase of EMC, analyst Matthew Eastwood of IDC, says, “On paper they’re complementary to one another. You have Dell’s core server and EMC’s storage, plus VMware assets.”
In addition, Dell has competence in serving mid- to upper-mid-sized businesses, while EMC specializes in large enterprises. “In that sense, Dell is buying a world class sales force that knows how to sell into the data center,” says Eastwood.
In terms of cloud services, EMC is an 80 percent owner of VMware, which is building its own cloud. And in July, EMC bought Virtustream, a provider of managed cloud services. EMC’s VMware and Virtustream give Dell an important component if it hopes to compete with Amazon.
“At the end of the day, the market can only support two to three ecosystems,” says Eastwood. “When you think of the software defined data center (SDDC), VMware intends to be a lead player, as do Microsoft and Red Hat. You’ll see a lot of jostling around of relationships to develop technologies that bring software attributes together with systems and hardware to create converged stacks.”
One area that’s kind of weak for EMC and Dell is networking. However, EMC is a majority owner of VCE, which sells Vblock, a converged infrastructure product. Vblock brings together VMware virtualization, Cisco networking and compute, and EMC storage. Cisco owns only a 10 percent interest in VCE. Still, that’s still a bit awkward as alliances shift.
“In the short term there are lots of partnerships that are going to require re-working,” says Eastwood. “EMC/Cisco is one of those.”
Long Live On-Premises
While Dell and EMC begin to amass the necessary pieces to compete with AWS, these kinds of major transitions can take up to a decade. And their customers also need time to evolve.
“Cloud is growing fast, but in-house technology will remain important for a long time,” says Forrester analyst, Glenn O’Donnell, in an email. “The big game for every tech giant is how they can straddle the on-premises and cloud-based worlds. These two must work as one seamless environment. For most companies, this is not yet the case. Dell can make some good progress in this direction with EMC in the fold.”
With such complicated transitions at work in the market, it could be a big advantage for EMC that Dell is a private company. Since taking his company private about two years ago, founder Michael Dell has been able to make strategic decisions without having to answer to shareholders and analysts.
“It will be a big benefit for EMC to have a steward that believes in its value, but also understands as a private company they can manage a lot of the transitions that need to happen,” says Eastwood.