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More Vendor Bashing!

What a hornet's nest I stirred up with my blog; firstly it was good to see a lot of the NetApp guys coming out swinging in defence of their company, you should have passion for the company you work for but…..and there's always a but, it was not suprising to see that most missed the point! I was not attacking the Filer product, it is actually a great product for most people. However it is a single great product which you have built a business on but it is just a single product. 

There comes a time I think that once a company gets to certain size and I think that NetApp are at that size; that a company needs to start to diversify. NetApp's performance on acquistion has quite frankly been terrible; perhaps Georgen's can turn this round and they can acquire and integrate well. NetApp for too long have traded on being 'not EMC'; I am not convinced that this is any longer a credible strategy which brings me on nicely to didn't actually think I was going to let EMC off the hook?

EMC have exactly the opposite problem to NetApp; they actually have too many products and the 'Cloud' strategy actually sums them up! Their strategy is made of cloud, it's large, all encompassing and when you try to get hold of it; well….Put it like this, the average sales-man cannot articulate it, they don't even get to arm-waving bit, there's a blank look and then they try to sell you some storage. But at least you have Chuck's Blog!

So it's about time EMC started to make their sale-guy's lives a bit easier and shrunk their product catalogue. Clariion and Celerra need to become the same product line; yep, you need to copy NetApp and have a truly unified storage platform. You've got some bright guys who understand file-systems, containers etc; just admit the NetApp were right in the mid-range space and launch the Celariion. If you were feeling really brave, you could keep the gateway product and virtualise other vendor's disk. 

Next have a look at the CMA area; what exactly does Documentum do for you?  And when you start to drill down into the Documentum product set, there's some real cruft in there. Does anyone actually use your Digital Asset Management tools for example? The whole CMA area needs looking at and streamlining. 

Ionix? A rebranding exercise at the moment. The whole product set needs integrating and you need to sit down with the people who use this stuff on a day-to-day basis, you could streamline and much improve this product set. And as your friends at NetApp seem to be asleep at the wheel with SanScreen; you could actually catch up and go past them. 

Like Ionix, your BURA product set needs integrating and streamlining; the Avamar/Data Domain story is confusing customers everywhere, it makes us go cross-eyed at times. For example, we were looking deduplication last year prior to your Data Domain acquisition and you were trying to sell us Avamar against Data Domain; now you want to sell us Data Domain. Confused and we aren't the only ones!

EMC Consulting would be a good idea, not EMC paid-for PreSales which unfortunately it currently often turns into. You do have some good guys but stop brainwashing them and allow them independance of thought. I won't rant about EMC-UK but it's broken; if you want more information, contact me directly. 

I think that like NetApp, you are in no-man's land as an organisation and there's a wonderful British expression 'eyes too big for your belly' which sums you up nicely at the moment!  And like NetApp, you have some interesting challenges ahead and some interesting challengers but quietly and privately, you appear to acknowledge that. 

I do want EMC, NetApp and all the other storage companies to succeed and grow; in IT infrastructure, it's the only place where there's any kind of product differentiation. The server market is quite frankly, boring and the network market suffers from the big kid in the playground syndrome.


  1. Chad Sakac says:

    Disclosure – EMC’er here (and one who is FURIOUSLY passionate about EMC 🙂
    Perhaps a cultural difference we have relative to others, but what I see inside is that we are very conscious over where we need to get better.
    I think there’s a broad consensus on a lot (not all, but most) of your points here. I’ve certainly been advocating the Celerrion for many, many moons.
    Where the customer needs CAN be met with one approach, that simplification can be a very powerful unifying concept. Where it can’t, breadth is important.
    Simplification is good, and is our #1 2010 priority from Gelsinger (of a list of 5 priorities).
    There are massive challenges ahead, and challengers from every direction.
    But – acknowledgement, and brutal assessment of state is a perpetual requirement of re-invention. That assessment exists, question is can we pull it off!

  2. Chuck Hollis says:

    Thanks for the comments. As a long time EMC employee, I would probably come up with my own rather longish list of “things we certainly could do better”. And there would be some overlap between my list and your list.
    I always appreciate insightful commentary from people who watch EMC closely — and you’re certainly one of those.
    Thanks again!
    — Chuck

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