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Combined Dell and EMC company targets intelligent things

The $74bn merger of Dell and EMC has created a technology giant with a remit to expand into the software-defined datacentre space to support IoT

This article can also be found in the Premium Editorial Download: Computer Weekly: Dell Technologies aims for an intelligent, connected future

Michael Dell has unveiled newly merged Dell and EMC company Dell Technologies, with a strategy to address the IT infrastructure needs of a world of intelligent things.

The merger of Dell with EMC has created a $76bn organisation, with 150,000 staff and a product range that includes Dell EMC Services, Boomi, Pivotal, RSA, SecureWorks, Virtustream and VMware.

“We are at the dawn of the next industrial revolution,” said Dell founder Michael Dell about the completion of the merger. “Our world is becoming more intelligent and more connected by the minute, and ultimately will become intertwined with a vast internet of things [IoT], paving the way for our customers to do incredible things.”

According to EMC Europe senior vice-president Jacques Boschung, the coming together of the two tech giants represented a merger of scope. “We don’t have overlapping products or people in the field. It is a seamless experience,” he said.

Dell Technologies is positioning itself as the IT company to help CIOs support digitisation. Its core value is a fully integrated software-defined datacentre (SDDC), and analyst Forrester expects the new firm to build on the SDDC credentials of EMC following the merger.

Dell’s cloud focus has stayed on the enablement side, and its acquisition of EMC is a strong adjacency play, said Forrester. Commenting on the acquisition, the company noted: “This establishes Dell as the largest system technology vendor in the industry, adding roughly $24bn in storage-related revenues to its portfolio.”

In Forrester’s Vendor landscape: Software-defined data centers report, analysts Robert Stround and Richard Fischera described EMC as “a powerhouse player in the SDDC space”.

“Its offerings extend from increasingly virtualised enterprise storage through the more advanced category, which includes VCE [virtual computing environment] converged infrastructure solutions such as the VCE VxRail and VxRack – hyperconverged solutions centred on both OpenStack and VMware,” they said. “Also of note is standalone software-defined storage, including ScaleIO and ViPR Storage Management.”

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Addressing an audience of IT leaders in Gothenburg in early September 2016, EMC’s Boschung said: “EMC provides innovative infrastructure to enable IT to spend a lot less time [on IT admin] so they can spend more time doing other things.”

The products highlighted by Forrester fill out Dell Technologies’ range of products for simplifying run-of-the-mill IT admin chores, such as server and storage provisioning, thus freeing up time for IT innovation.

IT as an innovator

Boschung believes IT is well-positioned to drive business transformation through digitisation initiatives.

“We are all living in interesting times,” he said. “It has never been so good to be in IT. We can truly contribute to the top line. The CIO is becoming the chief customer experience officer.”

Customer experience is one of the four pillars the new company has aligned against. The others are IoT, artificial intelligence and the shared economy. These represent data-driven megatrends. Data is set to become the core value that the new Dell-EMC company wants to be seen as a leader in.

Pooling data for zettabytes

According to EMC advanced software division CTO Salvatore DeSimone, the world is moving to an era of zettabytes (ZB) of data. “We expect to see data grow to 44ZB by 2020,” he said.

This will require cheaper, faster and bigger storage with self-service and utility consumption. Rather than build processing power then add storage, EMC believes IT departments will organise their computing power around the storage foundation.

“When you have zettabyes, you need to move the compute [power] next to the data,” said DeSimone.

In this new era of computing, EMC’s role is no longer about providing high-end enterprise-class storage. The company has recognised the need to support scale-out IT, where storage is largely based on commodity disk drives. 

“Scale-out eliminates silos of storage. You start with commodity servers that grow as one logical system,” said DeSimone.

EMC sees the intelligence to enable such a system to grow as one logical storage array is provided by software. DeSimone believes protocols will become the next barrier to interoperability.

“Protocols lead to silos,” he said. “People have different data pipelines such as for Spark or Hadoop, so you have to extract, translate and load [ETL] the data into an object store.”

DeSimone added that EMC now provides multi-protocol support, which means a single storage system can see the same data. “There is only one copy of the data; no ETL or co-ordination is needed,” he said.

EMC is regarded as a leader in solid-state disk (SSD) arrays, at least according to Gartner’s latest Magic Quadrant report. SSDs use flash memory and offer high data throughput, measured in input/output operations per second (IOPS).

“Flash equals speed in the modern datacentre,” said EMC VCE global CTO Nigel Moulton. “We can cloud-enable it, scale it out and then it’s software-defined.”

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