EMC World 2016 – Tucci’s Final Q&A and Looking Ahead

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  May 4, 2016

For me, Day Two of EMC World 2016 really began with EMC CEO Joe Tucci’s last private Q&A session with analysts, the significance of which requires a bit of background. In an industry that contains more than its fair share of CEOs known for being dissembling peacocks, paranoids and poseurs, Tucci’s plain-spokenness and passionate willingness to test and embrace new ideas is as refreshing as it is unusual.

For as long as I can remember, EMC analyst events have included open air sessions where Tucci invited the assembly to, “Ask me anything.” That doesn’t mean those sessions were always entirely cordial. Like people everywhere, analyst groups contain a few congenital dumbasses and some who love the sound of their own voices. Tucci doesn’t necessarily suffer fools gladly, but he does know how to exhibit patience and to recognize when more pointed weapons should lose their sheaths.

Tucci’s aloha

In this final session, Tucci was asked what he’d liked most about his job, and he replied, “I love strategy and love talent, and recognize the need to nurture talent and help it grow. If you expect people to work hard, you should work hard. If you expect them to stay late, you stay late.”

Tucci is also someone whose interests range far beyond the boardroom and marketplace, encompassing issues of critical importance to society at large. When someone asked about how the evolution toward more automated technologies and services would affect workers and the need for retraining programs, he replied, “That’s something I worry about deeply, both as an EMC employee and as a citizen of the world. Those developments portend great benefits along with great displacements, and I’d feel more optimistic if businesses and governments worked better together.”

At the end of the Q&A session, Tucci noted that rather than saying goodbye, “I’ll just say ‘aloha’ for now.” Here’s hoping that he will be back in the news soon, working on interesting projects or efforts for the common good. The technology industry and the wider world need more people like Joe Tucci, not fewer. Not just human but humane.

Day Two announcements

The news on EMC World’s second day was a bit restrained. No surprise there, since major announcements and events are reserved for kicking-off the conference. Despite that, there were some points worth discussing in the four major announcements;

  • Native Hybrid Cloud (NHC) is an engineered, turnkey platform for cloud-native application development and deployment
  • VCE VxRack System 1000 with Neutrino Nodes is a software-defined hyper-converged rack-scale engineered system designed to provide a turnkey cloud-native IaaS experience
  • VCE VxRack System with DSSD, a fully-engineered, optimized storage, networking and compute system for high-performance databases and data warehouses
  • The EMC DSSD dual D5 validated solution for high performance databases and data warehouses, delivering 2X the IOPS, bandwidth and capacity, one-third the latency and a lower TCO than what was previously the market’s fastest solution

Of the bunch, the new VCE VxRack solutions are particularly interesting, in part because they demonstrate the remarkable flexibility of the VxRack architecture (capable of supporting both cloud-native IaaS capabilities and high performance database applications). But since the impending close of the Dell/EMC deal has colored most if not all of the announcements and events at EMC World 2016, it’s worth considering VCE’s place in the larger Dell/EMC picture.

A few analysts and commentators have claimed, without any obvious evidence that I’m aware of, that Dell is likely to reformulate VCE offerings, like its Vblock solutions, replacing other vendors’ hardware (Cisco’s UCS servers and networking switches in the case of Vblocks) with its own. That seems insensible on first glance and ludicrous after deeper reflection.

The speed and scope of VCE’s remarkable success rests on a number of factors, including its careful system development, design and optimization processes, and how repeated customer engagements have helped the company speed production and deployment practices. That is not a situation where simplistically ripping out one vendor’s hardware and replacing it with another’s works well. In fact, it’d be a freaking disaster from both a system performance perspective and in how it would abuse the trust of satisfied customers.

Given VCE’s notable client retention and repeat business (over half of the systems it sells are to existing customers), Michael Dell and company would have to be nuts to mess with so successful a formula, and “nuts” is not a term I’ve ever heard to describe either one. But while messing with Vblocks seems as likely as the sun rising in the west, the VxRack family (which currently leverages commodity servers) is one that might well improve with the addition of innovative Dell server and networking technologies.

Toss in the new EMC DSSD dual D5 validated solution that could inspire a new family of Dell high performance database and data warehouse solutions and appliances, and you have what by any definition is the beginning of a beautiful, enterprise-class friendship. Day Two’s announcements also proved a simple yet telling point: So long as a vendor continues to evolve, and EMC is certainly doing that, its value is anything but static. Put another way, the growth of and enhancements EMC’s solution portfolio that have been highlighted this week in Las Vegas translates directly into increasing benefits for Dell.

Final analysis

I came to EMC World 2016 recognizing that the event would be replete with first appearances and final bows. That’s certainly been the case on Day Two, where I and other analysts began the day with a final Q&A session with Joe Tucci, one of the industry’s best and ablest senior executives.

This is also likely be the last EMC World that any of us attends, since next year’s conference should reference the Dell EMC unit in which the company will eventually reside. The past sixteen years have been a hell of a ride for EMC and the rest of the IT industry. It seems somehow appropriate that EMC World 2016 should end with high notes that should reverberate long after attendees return home.

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