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Tucci: EMC Federation provides fastest route to cloud

Joe Tucci and other top EMC execs argue at EMC World 2015 that all of the Federation pieces make the best on-ramp to private and hybrid clouds.

LAS VEGAS -- EMC CEO Joe Tucci used EMC World 2015 to renew his pitch to keep the EMC Federation together, saying all of its pieces are required to take customers where they want to go today -- the cloud.

Tucci and his EMC lieutenants -- CEOs David Goulden of EMC Information Infrastructure (storage), Pat Gelsinger of VMware and Paul Maritz of Pivotal -- made their case Tuesday during a session with media and analysts. EMC for months has fought off efforts by activist investors to break up the Federation or merge with another company.

"The biggest trend today is moving applications toward a cloud model," Tucci said. "And that cloud model is not necessarily a public cloud, it's a hybrid model. It includes public and managed private clouds. I know that when we compete against the other giants together, we win more than when we compete alone. Together, we have a much more compelling value proposition than we would have separately."

Technologies and services for building clouds are spread across the EMC Federation companies. EMC II provides the infrastructure and storage, VMware the server and network virtualization and managed cloud services for providers, and Pivotal has an open cloud development suite and big data analytics. RSA adds security, and VCE, a part of EMC II, has converged infrastructure that includes networking and server products from Cisco.

All those products can be daunting for customers, though. EMC has many overlapping products and services by design because it is fearful of leaving gaps. Goulden defended that strategy Tuesday.

"If you analyze the portfolio piece by piece, on the surface it could look complicated," he said. "There's a wide range of workloads and a wide range of customer requirements. We've taken a lot of that complexity out with converged infrastructure. With our colleagues across the Federation, we've delivered engineer solutions. Customers can stand up an enterprise hybrid cloud in 28 days. That used to be a multiple-quarter project. We can have that fully compatible with a public cloud using [VMware's] vCloud Air. They can stand up [Pivotal's] technology on top of that enterprise cloud to start building new applications."

Goulden said besides building clouds, the federation companies can help customers in the areas of data lakes, security and data analytics.

Investors push for breakup

Not everyone agrees with the "better together" mantra. Last year EMC investor Elliott Management prodded the company to explore a merger or to sell off VMware to create more shareholder value. EMC talked with Hewlett-Packard about merging before deciding to stand alone. Tucci is also nearing retirement, which convinces some investors it's a good time for EMC to make a move.

Tucci did not address his retirement at EMC World but said he remains steadfast in keeping all the pieces together. He said he agreed with Elliott on most things. He said he agreed with the activist investor that EMC has great technology assets, a stellar management team and talented people, and that the stock price should be higher. He did not agree that EMC should spin off VMware or merge.

"I disagreed with that," he said. "It's incumbent upon us in a reasonable timeframe to show what we can do to create shareholder value."

Customers like converged infrastructure, but not lock-in

Customers at the show said they like the EMC Federation idea, but only if it doesn't add lock-in.

Michael Tomkins, CTO of Fox Sports Australia, said a lot of the value from the federation comes from building relationships. He has 3 PB of storage on VCE Vblock and Isilon, and is heavily virtualized on VMware. He said he is looking at Pivotal's technology as a possible alternative to the home-grown open source-based orchestration layer his team built to run applications on Amazon Web Services.

"I don't like the one-night stand, I need the marriage," Tomkins said. "I don't want to be locked-in, though. I like the Federation, but I can always jump off because I still have options."

Tompkins said he considers his Vblock an internal cloud. "It's separate to everything else, but we control it internally," he said. "I just call it tin, and on that tin I will build what I need."

Paul Reyes, VP of infrastructure management and operations for Dallas-based Energy Future Holdings, said he too was wary of lock-in until he realized he could save tens of millions of dollars over the next five years using Vblocks and a hybrid cloud. His deployment time also dropped from months to days.

"We didn't want to go to a vertical stack," he said. "Looking and EMC and VCE, it was scary to be locked into a vertical stack model. But we looked at other services, and with a lot of options you still had to buy parts and pieces and put them all together. EMC provided a single point to call, engineers certified things before we got it, and now we have a Vblock dropped on the floor and in one week we're provisioning virtual servers to business units."

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