What the Dell EMC Acquisition Really Means

Author(s): John Sloan

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What does the massive acquisition of EMC by Dell mean for the IT infrastructure market? In short, not much. Let’s start by turning that question around. It is the market that is having a huge impact on EMC and Dell – and HP and IBM and NetApp for that matter.

The storage market is undergoing a major shift

The architectural landscape for storage is rapidly changing with new options that are disrupting traditional approaches. 

Info-Tech Research Group has been advising on the shift in storage over the past four years

A series of developments are coming together to displace the traditional disk storage array from its central and foundational role in the IT infrastructure.

What does this mean for Dell? Dell is bucking a trend in acquiring EMC

While other industry giants (HP, IBM, and Symantec) are moving toward breaking into smaller, more-focused pieces, Dell is going the other way.

What does this mean for EMC? EMC products get to live on for the time being

EMC was under pressure from activist investors to sell-off less productive parts of its portfolio. By selling to a privately-held company, EMC gets cover while the investors get their payday.

Bottom line: Disk arrays are not dead but rather the role of the disk array is changing; Dell and EMC are in survival mode

  • Ten years ago a SAN storage array was a key enabler of server consolidation and virtualization. Many small to medium enterprises bought their first SAN array specifically for this role.
  • Large enterprise-focused EMC came downmarket to exploit this opportunity with entry-level and midrange storage arrays (AX and the CLARiiON later superseded by the VNX). Dell was originally a reseller of the EMC gear, but then bulked up its portfolio by acquiring two companies that had started in the midmarket: EqualLogic (small to mid) and Compellent (mid to large).
  • But you don’t necessarily need a big disk array at the center of your infrastructure any more. Dell and particularly EMC see the writing on the wall. They have gone from defining a market to attempting to survive it.

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