Not Your Father’s EMC

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Looking back at press coverage coming out of EMC World last week there’s one phrase that pops up time and time again – “Not your father’s EMC”. This clearly struck a chord with many of our customers and employees alike and a number of you have asked me for more.

First of all, there are many great things about EMC that don’t need to change! There is a great heritage inside the company of doing what it takes to the keep customers happy… we have great relationships with many of the world’s largest companies and governments… and we have an expansive best-of-breed technology portfolio.

But the world is changing.

The way products will be built, evaluated, marketed, sold, used, serviced and supported is different in the 3rd platform. These changes force us to reevaluate everything we know about the traditional product lifecycle.

Let’s start with building products. EMC’s traditional products – storage arrays – will be used for many years to come underneath traditional data center applications, Oracle databases and the like. But for new 3rd platform applications, much of the value within the infrastructure will be delivered entirely through software… running on common off-the-shelf hardware. We believe that much of this software will be created using community-based development – “open source.”

The benefits to the customer are clear – more features, more quickly, without lock-in. “And free?” I hear you say. Not necessarily. I still believe that most customers will want to buy a complete working system (hardware + software + service) and for that they will be happy to pay. I do not believe we are heading back to a world where organizations buy component parts to spend days and weeks doing self-assembly.

With that in mind, last week, we announced the CoprHD open source project, essentially a release of the ViPR Controller source code into the community. I’ve been very clear that this project is merely the first we’ve picked and it is a part of a much more expansive open source effort you’ll see roll out over the next year.

Releasing the intellectual property of one of EMC’s mainstream products into the world of open source is not something we’ve ever done before. It’s a first – this is clearly not your fathers’ EMC.

Next, evaluating products. I’ve long believed that the people who evaluate and use our products are not the people who buy them. Usually the ‘buying’ is done by corporate procurement. As the infrastructure world moves increasingly toward software it should be much easier for folks who evaluate and use our software to simply download the binaries and get going. They should not have to wait for a license agreement to be in place before doing so.

With that in mind, last week, we announced the free download of ScaleIO – a software-defined block storage offering. It isn’t time-bombed. It isn’t feature-limited. It’s free for non-production use. Our belief is that if the users of our software like it, then they’ll recommend it and their procurement team will buy it for production use. Like open source, you should consider this free download as merely a first step and look forward to a much more expansive set of downloads over the next year.

Releasing unlimited, full featured commercial software onto EMC.com for free download is not something we’ve ever done before. It’s a first – this is clearly not your fathers’ EMC.

But we’re not stopping there.  We’re moving aggressively towards online/social marketing, quoting and transacting through our web store, publishing our product documentation so it’s searchable by Google, educating through MOOCs and supporting through online discussion forums and communities. The goal? To eliminate as much friction as possible at every stage in the product lifecycle – making it easier for our customers and our partners to interact with EMC.

Three years from now, I expect some parts of EMC will be the same as today, but many parts will look and feel very different from what we’ve always known. We’ll have the same high standard for quality, close relationships with customers, and we will continue to be a trusted place where people send their data for safe keeping, because their data is going to be their business. Those are the traits we want to keep. But the way we develop our products, the way we release our products, the way we sell them and the way we market them will be different. In the coming months and years, we’re going to adopt more digital techniques to give our customers the kind of experience they want. And that experience will not be your father’s EMC.

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