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EMC CEO defends federated business model, debunks storage myths

John Gallant | Sept. 4, 2014
There's EMC and then there's EMC.

There's EMC and then there's EMC.

Confused? Well, there's EMC, the vaunted storage and converged infrastructure company. But then there's EMC, the capstone of a corporate federation — including VMware and big-data startup Pivotal — that has positioned itself quite nicely to capitalize on the critical trends reshaping corporate IT. (Think mobile, cloud, big data, etc.) This summer, EMC's federation model came under fire from activist investors who claim the company would be better served by bringing assets like VMware in-house.

In this installment of the IDG Enterprise CEO Interview Series, EMC's Joe Tucci spoke with Chief Content Officer John Gallant about the federation model's value for IT leaders and how the partners — including security provider RSA — coordinate strategies to deliver innovation and choice. He also debunks what he views as nonsense being spewed by newcomers to the storage market and talks about how EMC is empowering customers to build private/hybrid clouds that stand up to the best the public cloud has to offer.

Computerworld: Let's start off by discussing your federation model. That's been in the business news this summer, but I want to talk about it from the perspective of the IT buyer. What is the benefit of that approach for IT and why is that better than, say, having all those capabilities under a single roof?

Tucci: It starts off with focus and how you build the best products. To build the best products you've got to have the best people. If you have a focused mission, one that can make a difference, something that really captures your attention, you'll get more directly rewarded for what you actually are doing than being part of a big company. You're likely to pull in better talent, which we have. Then I go back to where I started there, which is on what we're going to build. You say: Here is my mission. I'm going to build the best software, best solutions, and the best technology for this set of problems or opportunities.

Then it goes to giving customers choice. The principles of the federation are [that] it's highly strategically aligned with a little bit of overlap, because if you don't have overlap then you have seams and that's where all the competitors go. You align the missions of the companies in the federation and then we operationally align so we can bring all that technology together as if we were one company. But if a company says: Hey, I love this piece of VMware but I want to use another storage product or I want to use another converged infrastructure product or I want to use another security product, we say go ahead. Giving customers that choice is critical.


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