In the final part of an in-depth interview with ARN's Brian Corrigan, local EMC president, David Webster, predicts the demise of security software.
How will EMC's engagement with resellers change during the next few years?
I think the fundamental closeness of the relationships will continue to build from a people to people and organisation to organisation perspective. Our focus on enabling partners to become more effective in understanding what we do and how we do it so they can take that message to their customers will also continue to be important. The Velocity program will continue to evolve and in the future you will see us more focused on building more demand ahead of the channel. Those are the three dimensions where you will see us continue to develop.
How will software-as-a-service change your business and that of your channel partners?
That has yet to be defined. It's a topic we are looking at very closely globally in an attempt to understand what software-as-a-service means in the context of customer need and how you work with the channel. We are very conscious if the impact of something like that across the whole ecosystem. It's a work in progress and something we will be more open about later this year or early next year.
EMC has spoken of minimising its services footprint and driving that business through the partner community. What is the rationale behind that?
Quite simply that we believe this is a key area where resellers and partners want to add value to their customers. If they buy and resell an EMC storage platform we would expect them to offer services around that because it's a business opportunity. If you look at it from the other side, we know the customer wants the partner to provide the product and associated services. I think it's a natural development trend that will see our partner community offering more value-added services around the platforms and the software products so they can do more business with their customers. Generally, customers want to deal with organisations of a similar size because it's comfortable.
EMC has been very active in acquiring companies during recent years. Is that a strategy we can expect to see continue?
We continue to see information infrastructure as our core strategy and we see that in two dimensions - we are organically designing and developing new technologies but also looking at the market for opportunities to acquire technologies through acquisition. That build and buy strategy will be ongoing.
Are there any new areas of technology we might see EMC move into?
The four areas of storage, protection, optimisation and leverage are the buckets, if you like, in which we see our business. We will continue to look at the technologies we need to develop in those areas.
What significant changes do you expect to see in the way the industry operates?
Web 2.0 and the provision of information to individuals in the form they want it will be key. We use Google, Yahoo and whatever now to get access to information but it still doesn't come to us in the form we want. We get a list and then have to select from it. If Australia can get its strategy right around broadband then we will see information provision change. I think it's a real barrier now because you've got to have appropriate infrastructure to work effectively and efficiently. I don't think we have a strong enough development community in this country at the moment and that is a function of the infrastructure not being in place. Once the infrastructure is in place we will see better information provision, management of information, software-as-a-service, storage-as-a-service and a trend towards capability delivered down a wire rather than installing a CD. The idea of buying security software will go away. All of our platforms and software should be secure. It should be built into everything without the need to buy additional stuff. Security will become integrated. We have taken the RSA encryption technology into our storage platforms. The next step is the information should be secure rather than the firewall. The whole shift from the perimeter to securing information will continue and accelerate.
What will that mean for the security vendors of today?
Like everything else in the IT industry, if they don't evolve then they will get left behind. I think in the reseller community there are services doors opening around the security of platforms and applications. That's a market that will open up. You start to see consolidation within the reseller community of people that have more capability to work together. I would see partners getting together more to provide holistic solutions.
We have noticed a growing trend for resellers to become more specialised and be more open to partnering with other resellers. What do you think is driving that?
If a vendor is over-distributed the only way to be profitable is to differentiate. Therefore you build a capability nobody else has, another reseller builds another capability and then a customer wants them both. They come together. EMC's focus around the reseller community is to help them differentiate so they can be more competitive and drive more profit because there's no doubt generic providers with little value to add are playing a game with a declining margin curve.