What is Dell really buying?

Standard disclaimer, this is my personal opinions, and does not reflect those of my employer, or of any insider knowledge, take it for what it is worth.

When I heard rumors of the Dell EMC deal, I was pretty skeptical.  I am a numbers guy, and the amount of debt that would be required is a bit staggering.  Why would a company like Dell even want to acquire a company like EMC?  Especially after we all watched the pain they went through to take the company private.  Why would EMC want to go through the pain of being taken private, by a former competitor no less?  With the HP breakup, and IBM selling off a number of their product lines over the past decade or so, this almost seems counterintuitive, an attempt to recreate the big tech companies of the 90’s & 2000’s which are all but gone.

Sales and Engineering Talent

I have many friends at Dell, I was even a customer when I worked for some small startups many years ago.  In my experience, Dell is really good at putting together commodity products, and pricing them to move.  Their sales teams are good, but the compensation model makes them tough to partner with.

EMC has a world class sales and marketing organization.  EMC enterprise sales reps are all about the customer experience.  They are machines with amazing relationship skills, and they are well taken care of.  Engineering at EMC is a huge priority as well.  EMC’s higher end support offerings, while costly, are worth every penny.  I have seen them fly in engineers for some larger customers to fix problems.  EMC products are all about the customer experience.  Even though I have not been a fan of their hardware lately, they have done some amazing things around making the experience second to none.

An Enterprise Storage & Software product

Let’s be honest, Dell has not been a truly enterprise player in the storage and software arena.  If we look at the products they have acquired, a majority of them are mid market plays.  Compellent was supposed to be their big enterprise storage play, but that is mid market at best.  From a software perspective, most of the products are low end, and they don’t tend to develop them further.

EMC on the other hand has enterprise class storage.  Say what you want about the complexity of the VMAX line, it is pretty solid.  It may be a pain to manage sometimes, but it does set the standard in enterprise storage.  EMC has also done amazing things with software.  ViPR Controller and ViPR SRM are impressive technologies when implemented appropriately.  EMC has also done quite well with some of their other software products, but more so they treat software as a critical part of the stack.

VMware

Enough said, the real value for Dell is getting a good stake in VMware.  Like it or not VMware is the market leader in Hypervisors, Cloud Management, Software Defined Networking, and making incredible strides in Automation, and Software Defined Storage.  The best thing that EMC has done is allowing VMware to continue to be independant.  If Dell can stick to that plan, the rewards can be incredible.

The reality is this deal won’t change much in the short term from an IT industry perspective.  Large storage companies such as EMC and HP Storage are getting their lunch eaten by smaller more agile storage startups.  Servers are becoming more of a commodity, and software continues to be the path forward for many enterprises.  This is a good deal for both Dell and EMC, the challenge will be not to go the way of HP.  If I could give Michael Dell one piece of advice, it would be to hire smart people and listen to them.  Culture matters and the culture is what makes EMC and VMware what they are so don’t try to change it.  Culture is the true value of this acquisition.

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What is Dell really buying?

Automating my Home Part 4: Ecobee3 Thermostat

Lots of craziness going on recently with VMworld and VMware’s tech summit, I haven’t had the time to get as much done as I would like.  More to come on home networking soon, but today the Ecobee3 Thermostat is officially up and running.

When researching, the Ecobee3 gave me the best options, multi sensors, and most importantly my first apple home kit device.  As we are nearly an all apple family, sticking with the eco system just made sense.  In Oregon, there is an energy rebate, not a ton, but it helps.  I am hoping between the rebate, multiple sensors, and trending we can use this to help cut energy costs to pay for it.  Besides it looks really good in the house.

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Install was pretty simple, the Ecobee.com website has some good videos I watched, but as it turned out I didn’t even need those.  I have never worked on an HVAC system, but the directions were straight forward.  I just killed power, disconnected the wires from the old thermostat, connected the new one, and gave it power.  The setup took a few min, mostly waiting for it to register with Ecobee, and then about 10 min to calibrate.

For me the biggest thing is it is so simple I don’t need to spend time trying to figure it out, and even my wife and kids, who don’t want to have to struggle with tech find it very straight forward so far.  I am also pretty excited about the trending, hoping to see some savings, but also to understand where we are using energy.  I suspect HVAC is one of the largest consumers of power, so this should help.

Next more networking but for now, I give the Ecobee3 smart thermostat a big thumbs up, very simple and elegant.

Automating my Home Part 4: Ecobee3 Thermostat