EMC’s Ionix sale analysed - the industry likes the idea!

EMC’s surprise decision to offload its Ionix product line is welcomed by many, but Gartner warns customers need to be wary of EMC’s management roadmap.

On July 9th, 2009, EMC announced its Ionix enterprise management suite.

The new product and division, the company told SearchStorage ANZ at the time, would allow EMC to take on the likes of IBM’s Tivoli and HP’s OpenView and therefore represented a major opportunity for the company.

“None of the current management tools will make the journey [to the cloud],” EMC’s Clive Gold told us at the time of the Ionix launch, and EMC would therefore clean up.

That assertion may remain valid. Yet if it is, why – under 9 months since creating the Ionix division and setting sail for a new market – has EMC sold most of the software it offered to VMware?

David Hanrahan, General Manager of Dimension Data’s Virtual Data Centre Initiative believes Ionix’s move to VMware One makes sense, because perceptions of EMC as a storage vendor may not have allowed the company to engage with the decision makers likely to sign off on an Ionix purchase.

“With Ionix, you are selling to people who focus on management,” he says, adding that in his experience “When we start to sell sections of Ionix as part of [customers’] virtualisation initiatives it works better.”

An EMC reseller contacted by SearchStorage ANZ also welcomed the move, asserting that EMC has under-invested in some of its software acquisitions in the past. A software-only vendor like VMware, the reseller asserted, is therefore bound to do a better job marketing the products.

EMC’s Gold counters that the company already derives more than 50% of its revenue from software. Moving Ionix to VMware will make it easier to offer Ionix to customers using other storage vendors’ hardware, as such organisations are unlikely to welcome EMC sales representatives through the door.

VMWare Australia and New Zealand Managing Director Paul Harapin is also positive about the Ionix sale. SearchStorage ANZ met Harapin over drinks at a recent conference, just 48 hours after the deal was announced. While understandably unable to explain details of what it would mean for VMware’s local operations, Harapin was enthusiastic about Ionix and declared the company would be able to capitalise on demand and sell “a lot” of it locally.

Gold, meanwhile, added that as EMC remains VMWare’s majority owner, it stands to profit from the move whatever happens!

Gartner’s view

Analyst opinion on the transaction is also largely positive.

Gartner research on the sale, titled “EMC to Narrow Focus With Sale of Four Ionix Assets to

VMware,” by Ronni J. Colville, Donna Scott, Cameron Haight, states:

“Gartner believes this deal to be a necessary shift for both companies that will offer new management options for VMware and EMC customers, but it is not without challenges. EMC will need to continue to invest and convince customers it is committed to the network management business beyond storage, as well as ensure that it delivers on its Vblock partnership.”

Gartner also states that as one of the products comprising Ionix, Smarts, will remain with EMC “ ... VMware still lacks much-needed event correlation and analysis technology.”

Customers of EMC’s network management products, Gartner adds, should “Get a documented road map within three months of the deal closing to affirm EMC's commitment to non-storage-related network management. If not satisfied, prepare contingency plans.”

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