The keynote presentations at EMC World seemed very different to me this year. I’ve been to several EMC World conferences, and this one seemed to suggest a pivot for the company that we followed for so many years. To me, it suggests a much stronger focus on software products than I’ve ever seen from the company before.
It’s not like EMC is new to software. EMC referred to itself as a software company long before it acquired many of the software products that now make up its portfolio. In the past two decades, EMC has acquired a number of software-centric products. In the data protection space alone, they’ve acquired Legato Networker, Dantz/Retrospect, Avamar, Data Domain, Kashya RecoverPoint, WysDM, Mozy, and Spanning.
But the whole time EMC acquired software products, it continued to develop proprietary hardware solutions, while much of the rest of the world developed what we now call software-defined storage (SDS). Without a strong SDS story, they found themselves left out of much of the cloud conversation as well.
Just their subsidiary VMware didn’t want to be left out of the hyperconverged conversation, EMC didn’t want to be left out of any storage conversations. This is why it developed and released a number of software-defined versions of their traditional storage products, allowing you to run software versions of their popular products either on your own hardware or in the cloud.
Based on the packaging and pricing of the SDS products announced at EMC World, it is clear they hope customers will either run the SDS versions only at the edge or in the cloud, or that they will eventually outgrow these products and develop an interest in the traditional storage products EMC offers.
But based on the amount of times I heard “software-defined storage” or “cloud-ready”, I’d say EMC is definitely changing its tune when it comes to believing that proprietary arrays are the answer to all problems. Some at EMC might say the company changed its tune on this a while ago, and that may be true. But this EMC world, there just seemed to be a whole lot more people whistling the same tune.