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Data Protection in a Dell-plus-EMC World

Posted: October 12, 2015   /   By: Jason Buffington   /   Tags: EMC, data protection, Dell

market-changeEarlier today, Dell announced it was acquiring EMC. While there is still much to be decided and most of this will not substantively occur until mid-2016, the scenario raises several interesting ramifications regarding data protection as each of the vendors already had an interesting road ahead into next year:

Dell

Dell continues to evolve, particularly within its Data Protection portfolio, after its acquisition of Appassure and then Quest. With much of the IP and product direction now aligned, Dell already boasts a complete solution portfolio:

  • Dell deduplication storage arrays, via its Ocarina acquisition, now known as its DR series.
  • Dell backup software, via its Appassure and Quest NetVault products—with additional IP on VM-specific backups from Quest’s vRanger technology.

Aside from the technologies themselves, which ESG has covered over the years, Dell has admittedly struggled to clearly articulate its broader "Data Protection" story, under its "Protect" message pillar that encompasses both its backup technologies and its information security offerings. Previous ESG commentary on that can be found at:

Admittedly, 2016 looks/looked full of potential for Dell’s data protection portfolio, with several exciting innovations and vision, starting with Dell World in two weeks—and that was before the EMC announcement.

EMC

EMC is one of the behemoths in the data protection industry, particularly with large enterprises where the synergies of EMC primary storage and EMC protection solutions are well-aligned, including:

  • EMC deduplication storage arrays under its Data Domain portfolio, which continues to be "the one to beat" in traditional "protection storage."
  • EMC backup software via EMC Networker and EMC Avamar technologies, with the latter also being available in appliance form-factors.
  • EMC also boasts a variety of cloud protection offerings from Spanning, Maginatics, and Mozy acquisitions.

EMC has recently completed its own reorganization by combining the previously focused Data Protection and Availability Division (DPAD) with its primary storage (VMAX, VNX, etc.) divisions to create a mammoth Core Technologies arm of the company. Some of the products have continued to evolve—including additional backup software partners joining the Data Domain ecosystem and a new virtualized appliance offering for Data Domain being pre-announced—but having a single field and marketing engine across primary/protection portfolios has diluted some of the fierce and focused data protection momentum that EMC has historically been known for.

Together

Both organizations have great potential attach stories for their data protection offerings, which is both a blessing and a curse:

  • Dell has a breadth of management, security, and backup technologies that are perhaps most effectively sold when attached to Dell’s server and desktop/endpoint product lines.
  • EMC has its own breadth of backup technologies that are often attached to EMC primary storage solutions, as well as solutions wrapped around its VMware-powered virtualization architectures.

Considering Dell’s strong relationships with other major software vendors (i.e., Microsoft), the dynamics of Hyper-V centric protection vs VMware-preferred protection solutions may shift during this evolution. Meanwhile, the new DELL+EMC data protection attach story may become more complicated. On today’s announcement, executives from both companies stressed their commitment to maintaining healthy co-opetition, so:

  • Dell server plus DP solutions should continue to work with other storage solutions.
  • EMC storage plus DP solutions should continue to work with other server platforms.
  • And Dell servers plus EMC storage should continue to be protect/recover-able by other DP solutions.

But then, where will the “better together” come from … other than ease of acquisition through what promises to be a juggernaut of a sales force? How long will it take the combined product marketing/management organizations to reconcile the two DP portfolios into definitive guidance on when to use each product? Until then, will their channels stay as committed? Or will the uncertainty of both product lines’ long-term be an opportunity for everyone else in the DP market to gain share?

data protection and the channel

Jason Buffington

Jason Buffington focuses primarily on data protection, along with Windows Server infrastructure, management and virtualization. He has concentrated on data protection and availability technologies since 1989 and has been a Certified Business Continuity Planner (CBCP), a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and Trainer (MSCE/MCT), and a Microsoft MVP in file system and storage solutions.

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