Last week’s EMC World would have to be viewed as a major success for EMC. There were customers, press, analysts, resellers, and even other vendors there with something around 20,000 people – counting EMC employees. The crowd was so large, getting through the corridors of the Venetian was a moving body rub.
The access to EMC executives and staff was a real credit to the event. They provided information and fielded questions and did not just “make an appearance” and then bolt. EMC technical people were available as well, and many attendees took advantage to ask about usage in specific environments. For analysts, there was a program to meet with executives and product owners and find about directions and new capabilities.
There has certainly been a sea change in storage events over the years. Meeting with vendors and hearing about their products or their latest announcements was done at large, multi-vendor events such as Storage Networking World (SNW) in the past. Now, the information is more available at the vendor events such as EMC World.
Most vendors have also changed their approach to releasing information. The vendor events are when the next generation of products or features are announced, and future capabilities previewed. There was a time when vendors rarely pre-announced products or capabilities. The announcements came when the products were available.
That practice was relaxed somewhat to coincide with major industry events and products or features were announced that were going to be available within the next quarter. At the major vendor events now, the announcements may be for features or products that will come out over the next three quarters. This is a much longer view and has both positive aspects such as creating interest and publicity for the vendor and negatives in that it may freeze purchases while customers wait for future releases.
EMC uses its show as what the vendor calls a “mega launch,” with significant announcements or releases involving most of its key products. It creates interest and has turned EMC World into a must-attend event where the amount of information is so great that not attending will leave people feeling they might be missing valuable information. Certainly that is the intention and it works well. The result may be that the industry-wide events such as SNW have less new information and their importance has diminished in the minds of many.
As an analyst, access to the executives and product people along with the explanations about the announcements are incredibly valuable. It is also a great chance to catch up with friends that you’ve worked with in the past.
The economics for these mega events are well understood by marketing – they cost a great deal and must result in increased or sustaining revenue to justify the investment. EMC has certainly set the bar for these shows, and we can expect more of the same from their rivals in the storage arms race.
(Randy Kerns is Senior Strategist at Evaluator Group, an IT analyst firm).