Dell EMC World 2016: Industry Analysts Weigh In With Their Quick Takes

By Patrick Moorhead - October 21, 2016
The first Dell EMC World concluded yesterday in Austin, Texas, and the Moor Insights & Strategy team, who were on-site at the event, wanted to provide their very quick take on the event. Dell EMC World was the first major conference where Dell and EMC presented themselves as one organization, Dell EMC, and all customer, channel, press and analyst eyes were there to see combined products and roadmaps, sales, service and channel strategies, and consistencies and inconsistencies in what was shown and said from the prior year in the lead-up to the close. I limited Moor Insights & Strategy analysts to one paragraph and they didn’t need to stay in their analyst coverage swim-lanes. screenshot-176-1200x535 Michael Dell and Patrick Moorhead Chatting at Dell EMC World 2016 in Austin, TX Confidence (Patrick Moorhead) I got the chance to get up close and personal with many senior execs at the new Dell Technologies and Dell EMC. In addition to Michael Dell, I met 1:1 with President and Chief Commercial Officer Marius Haas, CMO Jeremy Burton, President of Services and IT Howard Elias, President of Global Channels John Byrne, Virtustream CEO Rodney Rogers and President Kevin Reid, President of Emerging Technologies CJ Desai, SVP of Validated Solutions and HPC James Ganthier, SVP of Emerging Technologies Sam Grocott, SVP Core Technologies Chris Ratcliffe and SVP of OEM Solutions Joyce Mullen. Across all of these meetings, I wanted to look everyone in the whites of their eyes to separate reality from the talking points. The good news for Dell EMC’s future is that there was confidence and consistency in everything. I have never seen this much confidence from Michael Dell in my 25 years in tech. Senior executive confidence is huge as it sends signals to everyone including employees, customers, channels, ecosystem, press and analysts that you buy into the plan and direction. It wasn’t a cocky confidence, either, it was real confidence backed with facts and details. I asked some tough questions on cloud aspirations, open software versus VMWare-centric, company size and the ability to quickly innovate and got some promising answers back so far. There’s a lot of execution and integration to come, but so far, so good. Message and Optics (John Fruehe) At the end of 3 days I have two very clear observations. First, as a newly merged company they had none of the typical characteristics of a merged company. Everyone spoke with a (fairly) consistent lexicon, there were few, if any awkward and disjointed visuals and the message to the customer was clear, concise and direct. This was classic Dell with EMC polish. However, just because everything looked clean and unified on the front does not mean that peeling back the layers below will not automatically drive the same experience. There is definitely more work to go on this front, but based on how smoothly the outward view was executed, they have a good start on getting the “behind the scenes” operations joined and running. The second observation was that, unfortunately, Dell EMC is viewing the world through a storage lens. All of the world’s problems cannot be solved by storage alone; storage is an important part of every solution, but not always the primary driving factor. For instance, when considering a private cloud environment the compute, networking and tools components are just as important as the storage, but these seem to have taken a backseat to the petabyte discussions. In EMC’s eyes everything revolves around storage, but to the customer, it is not that black and white. Combined server and hyper-converged product offerings (Gina Longoria) Dell EMC continued to reiterate their  #1 market share position in many of the solution areas they service. I believe their desire for continued leadership will have a heavy influence on which product lines they will continue to invest in long term.  Dell EMC did a great job of showcasing examples where they are quickly taking advantage of their technology synergies, like Dell PowerEdge servers as a part of the VXRail and VXRack hyper-converged offerings. The executives in the hyper-converged segment were touting the supply chain advantages of having their own X86 server hardware in terms of cost, integration capabilities, and support. I believe this advantage is significant as bringing optimized converged, hyperconverged, and scale out storage solutions together in a way that is seamless and cost-effective for customers is a monumental task. I think the combination of EMC’s white glove service & innovation combined with Dell’s supply chain & channel reach could be a winning combination. The next six months to a year will determine whether or not they can deliver on the promise that these synergies can offer. Products and technologies (Jimmy Pike) Dell EMC World this week in Austin was a truly interesting event. It is the first time many of us have been able to see the new company begin to function as one. I realize there are more things to resolve, but I can only call what we saw in their teams as excitement and high energy. The products seem to represent a good integration of both companies. In fact, one challenge I see is their crowded number of products and brands in their portfolio. Dell EMC has made a commitment, not to strand customers on products that will be phased out, but it is a sure bet, some of them will disappear as the two companies operate together. At the same time, no one can argue with the breadth and fullness of the product lines. It was great to see the worldwide #1 PowerEdge server product line emerging in the combined products solutions. As an HPC fan, it is hard to argue with a product line that includes the DSSD D5 and ISILON, but what most surprised me is the work EMC has done to support and enable OpenStack… not widely known. On the compute side, the PowerEdge server line continues to earn its marketplace and reputation. One of the more interesting things was what Dell calls their mini-modules, a product produced by the Extreme Scale Infrastructure group (formally DCS). It is a bite size edition of the Modular Data Centers (MDC) Dell has been producing for the hyperscale market for years and is targeted as an alternative to a data center (on a small scale). If the direction of IoT and the associated data are any indications, we may see these all over the place. Based on this Dell EMC World, watching the future unfold is going to be fascinating, and If I were part of the new company, I’d expect to have to hang on to my hat. Industrial IoT (Mike Krell) This Dell EMC World proved that the company understands what IoT is all about. Dell has begun discussing IoT not as a solution or problem, but as solving problems for distinct use cases. The issue is not “I need to buy some IoT”, but, “I want to reduce the number of times my line goes down a year from 3 to 1, how do I get there”. Dell’s focus was on demonstrating the use of Dell IIoT gateways in a variety of applications in conjunction with a broad array of technology partners and system integrators. As Andy Rhodes, head of their IoT efforts puts it, ” If anyone tells you they can provide the entire IoT solution, then they’re not telling you the truth.” Dell believes this mantra and has assembled an industry leading partner program, which they happily demonstrated in their show booth. Based on what I saw, the issue for Dell will be one of execution and getting enough enterprises to ramp solutions fast enough to keep everyone excited about moving forward while the market continues to evolve. I’ll be following up in a few days with some focused takeaways on many of the product announcements and keynotes.
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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.