Dan's Take

Dell's Heavyweight Move

Buying EMC opens the enterprise door much wider.

The tech news world is busy with comments on Dell acquiring EMC for $67 billion. I've read that, if approved, this would be the largest IT takeover ever. This means that EMC shareholders will receive $33.15 per share, most of which ($24.05) will be in cash. Since I'm not a financial analyst, I'll leave the detailed commentary on the financial details to the experts. I'd like to quickly review how the technology portfolios of the two companies might be seen together.

Quick Review of Dell's Portfolio
Dell is known for its expertise in industry standard x86-based desktops, laptops, and servers of all sizes. It also has made an effort to be able to address customer requirements in nearly every area of virtualization technology, cloud computing and big data. Let's quickly summarize Dell's portfolio:

  • It largely focuses on the market for Windows-based systems, but has added some Linux for server-oriented workloads. It has established partnerships with Microsoft and many Linux suppliers, including Red Hat, SUSE and Canonical. It also tests its products with Linux supplied by other Linux distributors, including Oracle.
  • Dell has long established relationships with Citrix and Microsoft when access or application virtualization is needed. (see this article for an overview of how Dell addresses the requirements for these types of virtualization technology.) It also works with a number of smaller players in application virtualization. This means that Dell is well positioned to play in both the access virtualization and application virtualization portions of the Kusnetzky Group model of virtualization.

If we look at the processing virtualization portion of the Kusnetzky Group model, Dell can check most of the boxes there:

  • The company has partnerships with both Microsoft and VMware for virtual machine software. Its partnership with Red Hat brings in KVM, and its partnerships with both Citrix and Oracle supplies Xen. The company has developed strong expertise in the area of processing virtualization.
  • Dell offers a line of PowerEdge configurations designed to work with Microsoft, Red Hat and SUSE clustering software that addresses the need for both high availability and performance clustering.
  • Dell has a number of partnerships with Big Data and NoSQL database suppliers; over time, the company has developed strong levels of expertise in parallel processing and workload management technologies.

Dell has both developed and acquired storage virtualization technologies, and offers products in this area under the Compellent and EqualLogic names. This allows the company to check the storage virtualization box:

  • Dell has partnerships with companies such as Cumulus and Alcatel-Lucent, and has developed its own network management tools, allowing it to be part of the conversation when network virtualization is the topic.
  • Dell has partnerships with nearly every major supplier of management and security technology.

Dell is also well positioned to address other industry hot buttons as well:

  • It's offered smartphones and tablets, trying to be a player in both the BYOD and Internet of Things movements.
  • It's a member of both the OpenStack and CloudStack cloud framework alliances, and has partnered with both Eucalyptus and Canonical to support Eucalyptus' Amazon AWS-compatible cloud installations. Dell can check all the boxes in this area.
  • It's been part of most of the cloud framework alliances. It has signed on with both the OpenStack and the CloudStack groups. The company has acquired several storage and network virtualization companies, and has developed an impressive set of storage products. It also has done its best to keep up with industry catch phrases by announcing OpenStack

Dell offers products and services in many other areas. I'll stop here, however, since this is an article for Virtualization Review and not a book on Dell.

Quick Review of EMC's Portfolio
EMC has always had a knack for reframing any IT industry conversation to be one about data and storage. It doesn't matter whether to conversation started on the topic of BYOD, IoT, cloud computing, virtualization, converged infrastructure, big data, or just about anything else; EMC can quickly and effectively turn that conversation around to focus on storage, storage management and storage virtualization.

EMC is largely known for storage, storage replication, storage management and storage area networking. It has mastered performance, management, virtualization, scaling and availability for every storage environment but the smallest.

Dan's Take: Dell Wants to Own the Datacenter
If we compare the product portfolios, it's easy to see that there is an overlap in the area of storage and storage virtualization. The two companies have long worked together to help their mutual customers address their requirements for data center processing.

Dell has a stronger penetration in small- and medium-sized companies. Although Dell is in larger companies, EMC has stronger penetration in the enterprise data center. Dell clearly wants to be in a position to knock on any enterprise door and be welcomed in as a major enterprise player. It has made great strides in that direction, and adding EMC's expertise, products and services to its portfolio would serve to make the combined company one of the industry's heaviest of heavyweights.

About the Author

Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. He has been a business unit manager at a hardware company and head of corporate marketing and strategy at a software company.

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