I've spent the week at EMC World, and it's been an interesting event. It's my first EMC World, and I've been impressed with the technical level of the event. There has been a good contrast between the keynotes (10,000 ft. view), the breakout sessions (2,500 ft. view) and the private meetings (street level). EMC has stayed on message (I'm declaring a moratorium on the "journey to the private cloud" metaphor for a while) and it's made for a very seamless event from a customer standpoint.
What has been striking to me, as a service provider, is the lack of prominence that the service providers have at the event. Unlike a VMware or Microsoft or Citrix event where the service provider community is front and center, the lack of a visible EMC SP community here is pretty striking.
I'm feeling good this morning, so I'm going to be a glass-half-full guy: I'm excited about how early EMC is in their lifecycle with the SP community and I'm optimistic that our involvement will lead to my company being able to play an important part in how that community develops. I'm trying to listen to the keynote while posting this, so I apologize for the brevity, but here are some opportunities that I see on the horizon (hopefully…):
- EMC must provide a vehicle to publicize service providers that are capable of providing EMC-based storage, backup and replication solutions as a service, not as a capital purchase.
- EMC has the opportunity to look at their billing/licensing models and make them relevant to how the service provider business make sense. They can help us acquire and install the infrastructure needed to build solutions for customers in a way that matches up with how we generate revenue. Let's end the struggle between "build it and they will come" and the business realities of the service provider model.
- Let's find a way to push enterprise features down to the SMB customer using the service providers as the conduit. I don't want to race to the bottom, I want to provide the best possible solution using enterprise-class infrastructure, and I promise you that's what my customers want as well. SMB customers in a multi-tenant environment want SRM. They want AppSpeed and the benefit of the Ionix toolsets. Let's find a licensing and reporting model that makes sense in a multi-tenant environment.
- Let's use some of the service provider use cases to drive v1 releases of technologies! Having to wait for v2 or v3 before our use cases are satisfied hurts us two ways: first, our customers don't want to hear that our enterprise partners aren't supporting them just because they are in a multi-tenant environment. Second, it becomes a distraction internally with the executive/board discussions because they don't want to hear that EMC isn't building things with us in mind.
- Let's build a support and sales relationship that is built around the service provider business model.
This last one is a bit of a softball since there are strong indications that we are going to see this happen sooner rather than later, but it's going to be the primary enabler to making the rest of these things happen. Once the sales/engineering/business teams at EMC are talking to us as service providers, not as commercial accounts, I believe we will see rapid change across the board. There's a ton of opportunity for the hardware providers in the SP space, and we need to work together to realize it. Why? Because it's good for the service providers too. Have more ideas for how hardware vendors can work better with service providers? Leave me a comment!
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