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LAS VEGAS -- Joe Tucci symbolically passed the EMC baton at EMC World to Michael Dell, who promptly put his brand on the company he will acquire for $67 billion. The combined companies will be called Dell Technologies, while the enterprise business will be known as Dell EMC.
Tucci opened the keynote Monday at EMC World 2016, but his talk was mainly a farewell to the attendees. He spoke about how the show has grown since it was first known as the Wizards Conference in 2001.
"It's more than likely this will be the last time -- it's positively the last time -- I stand before you as CEO and chairman of EMC," Tucci said. "I'll be around the periphery."
Roughly half the crowd stood and applauded Tucci before he added, "Here's my friend, Michael Dell."
Dell spoke about the post-merger company as a family. "As family names go, I'm kind of attached to Dell," he said. "Our family of businesses will officially be known as Dell Technologies. It has a nice sound to it."
Dell's keynote attempted to convince EMC customers, partners and employees that Dell Technologies would be uniquely sized and positioned to dominate the IT market. He praised Tucci and current EMC management's strategy of having products and services around the "four pillars of the modern data center: flash, cloud-enabled, scale-out and software-defined." He emphasized that EMC-owned VMware, Pivotal, RSA and Virtustream will live on in Dell Technologies.
Tucci also did his best to convince the audience the Dell deal was for the best. "This isn't the end of something great," he said. "It's the beginning of something greater, and something special."
Looking for assurances
EMC customer Garry O'Connor, director of infrastructure at sports apparel company Lids in Zionsville, Ind., said he came to EMC World this year to detect what direction the company would take under Dell. Lids installed two Vblocks with EMC VMAX storage and Cisco servers and switching in the fall of 2015. O'Connor wanted assurances the investment was safe.
"We attended the conference this year because of the acquisition by Dell," he said. "We're worried about the changes that are going to take place and what it's going to look like moving forward.
Garry O'Connordirector of infrastructure at sports apparel company Lids
"Lids has made a significant investment with those two Vblocks," he noted. "It was about a $5 million total spend for us. That's a lot of hats."
O'Connor said Lids has approximately a petabyte of storage on EMC arrays, and enjoys the relationship with EMC's people, as well as its technology.
"It's important for us to have security in that purchase for a long time," he said of his Vblock investment. "We bought it with expandability in mind. We wanted to stay with that solution and not upset the apple cart. The EMC Federation is important to us. I feel like I have a big voice inside of EMC from a standpoint of deliverables. A lot of time, with other manufacturers, I don't get that voice."
O'Connor said he was pleased by what he saw on the first day of the conference, including Dell's keynote. He said he is encouraged by Dell's naming EMC executives to lead the enterprise business of Dell Technologies. Dell has also said EMC's Vblock partnership with Dell rival Cisco will continue after the EMC acquisition closes.
"It was very clear on stage that we were celebrating an outgoing CEO and welcoming another," O'Connor said. "The rebranding was not a surprise; [Dell] loves to put his name on things."
Getting 'ready to operate as one'
In a news conference after the keynotes, Dell said the main area of overlap between the two companies is in midrange storage. EMC has its new Unity system replacing its VNX there, and Dell has its Compellent arrays. Dell hinted the decision has already been made about what to do there.
"Let's be clear: EMC is a giant in storage, and Dell is not a giant in storage," he said. "Look at VNX and now Unity, and our Compellent. Compellent is more of a server-attached storage play in the lower market. Unity plays from the middle on up. We decided to keep them both because they don't completely overlap. All the other areas where they [EMC] play are areas where we don't play."
Dell said the combined company will be more flexible than EMC is now because Dell Technologies will be a private company. He said a private company has "no 90-day shot clock," so it can move faster than a public company. Dell took his company private in 2013. He promised EMC would innovate where it had to and make necessary acquisitions to bolster its technology after the deal closes.
"If you look at Dell post-privatization, we've been able to accelerate the pace of innovation," he said. ''We've had so much fun doing that, now we're taking EMC private."
Dell said the deal was on pace to close under the original terms and timeline, which called for its completion between the summer and fall of 2016. He did not go into detail, leaving that to EMC's Howard Elias and Dell's Rory Read, who lead the integration team.
The deal's three major hurdles remaining are Dell's finalizing the debt financing, regulatory approval from China and a vote by EMC shareholders.
Read said the regulatory approval process in China is "smoothly moving through its steps," and the debt commitment "is on track, all in place and ready to go." He and Elias said they expect the shareholder vote around the same time as the financing is completed, before the end of June.
The duo would not comment on the number of layoffs expected after the deal closes. They said they are instead concentrating on making the two companies ready to operate as one.
''We will operate as one team on Day 1," said Read, Dell's chief integration officer.
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