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May, 2014

EMCWorld 2014: Project Liberty and the Future EMC

This week is EMCWorld 2014 and it should be interesting as we’re in a time of great change within the IT infrastructure industry.  A few days ago EMC publicly disclosed a new initiative, Project Liberty.  Basically, Project Liberty is a preview of a project to create a software version of the VNX array…well, not the array itself but instead the types of services that it provides.  It is decoupling the software stack from the hardware stack.  Should sound familiar to those living in a  software defined world.  Use cases vary but you could easily see where development groups could have their own virtual VNX to test against before moving a project to production against a hardware VNX.  Or you could spin up these virtual VNXs anywhere that you needed those same services available.

But isn’t this just a rehash of the old VSA that EMC had?  No…there is a big difference here.  This is a real direction and product for EMC.  It’s not hard to see that EMC is working diligently to build software versions of almost all of their current product offerings.  vVPLEX, vRPAs (RecoverPoint), and now a real vVNX.  Add this to other new offerings such as ViPR and Nile and you start to see that EMC is making that turn from an almost-pure hardware manufacturer to a software development company.

The infrastructure world is obviously evolving and changing and everything is quickly being software defined.  Storage and storage services are quickly headed to commodity hardware with intelligent software.  Therefore it makes sense that a manufacturer such as EMC would try to start that transition as fast as they could.  They know that the days of specialized hardware  systems will eventually become a small minority of data storage infrastructure.  Customers want the flexibility and lower cost options for storing their data but still need sophisticated and robust services on top.

It’s going to be a very painful transition for much of EMC, as it will be for many other companies over the next few years.  It’s a monumental culture shift along with an entirely different direction for the company.  They’ll also be battling competitors that simply didn’t exist a year or two (or less) ago.  How do you repoint a sales team the size that EMC has?  How do you help move customers through this sort of transition?

This week at EMCWorld should be interesting and we should really start to get a glimpse of the EMC future strategy.  Let me know if you’re in Vegas this week!


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