EMC opens more of enterprise market to the channel

LAS VEGAS – Completing its decade-long journey from a direct-focused vendor to one that’s making the channel its primary route to market, IT infrastructure vendor EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) has launched new “rules of engagement” which makes all of the enterprise market, with the exception of key listed major enterprise and government accounts.

Called Enterprise Select, the program will see all enterprise opportunities handled exclusively by the channel. The exception will be those accounts on EMC’s named customer lists, which will be maintained both regionally and worldwide. EMC channel chief Gregg Ambulos said those will mainly be very large enterprise and government accounts that want a direct relationship with the vendor. And even some of those accounts will have a partner component as EMC seeks channel assistance in delivering those contracts.

“We’re allocating enterprise accounts exclusively to partners, and we’ve told our sales staff every opportunity has to be worked with and through partners,” said Ambulos. “We’ve created rules of engagement to ensure partners are brought in early, and partners get all the services.”

The move to a friendlier channel model by EMC, and particularly its program to develop more products and solutions in what it calls the sub-$75,000 market, a channel sweet-spot, has led to increasing interest in EMC from partners. Ambulos said HP, NetApp and IBM partners have been steadily coming to EMC in recent years, and there was a significant influx of Sun Microsystems partners a few years ago following that vendor’s acquisition by Oracle.

Today, Ambulos said over 50 per cent of EMC’s business comes through the indirect channel, and that’s a figure he expects to continue to grow with the Enterprise Select program and other recent channel initiatives.

EMC’s product mega-launch

With nearly 15,000 attendees making this its biggest user conference ever, EMC has responded with its largest ever product announcement: 42 refreshes, updates and launches that span its portfolio and are designed to ease the journey into the hybrid cloud.

Highlighting the new offerings is a new VMAX line of enterprise storage arrays: the 10K for smaller virtualized environments, the 20K for large-scale enterprise deployments, and the 40K for “hyper-consolidated” enterprise environments. The 40K features distance scaling, which allows the units to scale across floors or lanes and still work together. And a software update allows federated tiered storage, which lets customers bring older EMC and third-party storage under a common management framework.

The goal of all the storage updates is to allow CIOs to make easy and quick decisions around shifting workloads between on-premise data centres and the cloud said Brian Gallagher, president of EMC’s enterprise storage division.

“We believe customers need the flexibility and choice to make these decisions on a daily basis,” said Gallagher. “We want to give the CIO a joystick that says ‘OK, app number over here, app number five other there.’ With VPLAX and VMOTION, we can literally move a workload and an application to another data centre in under 10 minutes.”

On the backup and recovery front, BJ Jenkins, president of EMC’s backup and recovery systems division, said customers are dealing with data growth, flat budgets and infrastructures shifting from physical to virtual. EMC’s focus here is faster performance, tighter integration and simplified management.

New offerings include a new Data Domain appliance, the DD990, with an Intel Sandy Bridge processor, 28PB of capacity through the use of deduplication and a maximum of 16TB per hour of throughput. And a new version of its backup software, Avamar 6.1, brings tighter VMware integration and new support for Microsoft Hyper-V, as well as SAP, Sybase and Microsoft SQL Server 2012.

In the midrange tier flash storage is getting a lot of attention said Rich Napolitano, president of EMC’s unified storage division. EMC has learned that a little flash can go a long way, and has become a big part of EMC’s value-proposition.

“Using five per cent flash allows you to drive 70 per cent of your IO there, and that has allowed us to create new vertical and horizontal offerings that leverage this basic technological underpinning,” said Napolitano. “Driving IO to flash lets us move density to lower-cost drives.”

In response to criticism to EMC’s flash approach from active memory storage vendor Fusion-io, Napolitano said EMC doesn’t believe going all-flash is practicable or affordable. Selective use of flash for performance benefits while leveraging cheaper traditional storage for less timely data is the approach they’re following.

New offerings here include the VNXe3150, a midrange storage array with 50 per cent more performance and capacity than the last-generation product, with management designed for generalists in virtual environments. There’s also new management connectors to VMware to give IT managers a better cross-domain view.

Finally, the coming together of the worlds of big data and enterprise storage is a trend that Sujal Patel, president of EMC’s Isilon storage division, is addressing. He’s seeing lots of momentum around big data analytics, which is creating a big storage opportunity as well.

EMC’s answer to this trend is the next version of its Isilon OneFS scale-out NAS operating system. Code-named Mavericks and due out in the second half of 2012, it will feature improvements in data protection, security, system performance and interoperability to handle unstructured data.

Follow Jeff Jedras on Twitter: @JeffJedrasCDN.

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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