Dell + EMC: More than a Data Storage Godzilla?

Dell’s 10 year program to build an end-to-end enterprise software suite reached its culmination this week with the stunning $US67 billion takeover of EMC, rounding out the company’s portfolio with a compressive set of solutions for unstructured data management.

Although that was not how the buyout was widely interpreted, with products such as Documentum and InfoArchive seen as mere distractions from the main game of storage.

Analysts noted that Documentum, formerly less than 3% of EMC’s revenue, will be an even smaller portion of the Dell/EMC combined company’s revenue. The deal will combine the world's biggest enterprise storage vendor with one of the largest server makers.

Earlier this year, EMC announced it is replacing Documentum with a set of cloud-based modular apps that can be consumed at will and due to be launched by the end of 2015, under its Project Horizon program.

The new platform is not just Documentum in the cloud, it’s an entirely new platform and apps marketplace for content management, to be “curated” by EMC and delivered over the next five years.

Since 2006 Dell has spent $US14 billion on acquiring more than 30 companies. The EMC merger is by far the largest and “creates a genuine mega-vendor that will join the industry heavyweights HP, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP,” notes Ovum Research Analyst Tim Jennings

“The proposed acquisition of EMC by Dell and Silver Lake Partners. Both companies have individually been prospective candidates for this supergroup, but the combined entity has the breadth of products and services, and the scale, to compete for a strategic share of the enterprise wallet. A key question for those enterprises, however, is whether the enlarged company will end up looking like a legacy dinosaur or a powerful enabler of digital transformation,” said Jennings

The EMC purchase fills a gaping hole in Dell’s suite of Information Management Software which focusses on Application and data integration, Business intelligence, Database development and management and Database replication and backup.

The history of its software acquisitions tracks CEO Michael Dell’s quest to become a "powerhouse of an enterprise company," as he told CNBC.

While VMware will continue to be a separately publicly traded company, EMC will go private (like Dell) and become part of Dell.   The deal is expected to close in mid-2016 and is subject to regulatory approval.

Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR & Co., called the Dell-EMC merger “a landmark deal that will have wide-reaching ramifications across the tech landscape for years to come.”

But Constellation Research Analyst Holger Mueller isn’t sure that it’s a match made in heaven, mostly because the timing is off.

“This (the deal) would be all about creating the data centre of the future. If it would be on-premises, this would be a juggernaut, but as it will be ultimately completely in the cloud, that’s where Dell/EMC has struggled to get their share,” he said.

“Selling to OEMs for the public cloud is not going to be successful in the future as enterprises want consistent global SLAs to build their next generation infrastructure and applications,” he added.

EMC CEO Joe Tucci confessed to mixed feelings about selling up.

“This is a bittersweet announcement for me,” he wrote in a blog post. “We are entering a new era where the entire information technology industry is experiencing massive disruption. EMC’s board and I have worked tirelessly over the last few years exploring a variety of options for EMC, and I truly believe this is the best way forward for us.”