EMC steels itself for major release

EMC is preparing for what CEO Joe Tucci described Thursday as a major software announcement, focused on new data mobility solutions and an extension of the automated IS vision it detailed in August.

Although Tucci was cagey on discussing details of the launch here at Storage Decisions 2001, he revealed in an interview that the announcement date was set for later in October. An EMC press representative later confirmed that timeframe.

News of the impending announcement is the result of billions spent in research, US$750 million of which was allocated to software development this year, Tucci said.

Specifically, he explained that EMC is working to develop software solutions to integrate each of the storage hardware, switching, and application layers. "You're going to start seeing some products in that direction," he said. The pitch, he says, is not that EMC wants to become known as a software company, but an "information solutions company."

The software announcement will likely reflect what Tucci says is a push toward gaining more revenues from software and services, away from traditional hardware. EMC's latest second-quarter figures showed 25 percent of revenues came from software -- typically applied in storage management functions, while 11 percent came from services and 64 percent from hardware. According to Tucci, by 2003 those figures will rise to 30 percent for software, 20 percent from services, and 50 percent from hardware.

Meanwhile, Tucci unwittingly walked into the lions' den at the storage conference when he was asked to comment on public discussions here about EMC's arrogant sales force.

"If there's anything I disdain, its arrogance," he said in response to a delegate's question on the subject. "Clearly we have to address that."

Tucci took the bold step of calling for a show of hands in this audience of qualified storage buyers, many of whom were EMC customers. About 150 people of about 360 people in total raised their hands. When he asked how many of those people believed EMC sales people were arrogant, a healthy majority of hands stayed up.

However, on further discussion, Tucci would not shy away from his belief that an aggressive sales force is needed due to his "healthy paranoia" about emerging competitors across the storage spectrum. "The sales force we have is the envy of the industry," he claimed. "I don't want a soft sales force, that's ridiculous."

While dramatic on an emotional level, perception about EMC sales people is a critical component in its desire to remain one of the storage industry's most dominant vendors. According to users here, many of whom discussed the topic during session breaks, arrogance can be what determines the outcome of a sale.

One delegate and EMC customer, who asked not to be named, noted that he was leaning toward IBM Corp. for a huge enterprise installation, primarily in reaction to arrogant EMC sales behavior. "I told the EMC sales guy, if you hadn't brought in technical people at the last minute to answer my questions, I was going with another vendor," he said.

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