Most of us are so busy during the year that in the heat of all the action it becomes challenging to appreciate the real impact of all the changes that have occurred in the past year.
Obviously, the merger of Dell and EMC to create the single largest end-to-end provider of IT infrastructure on the planet stands out as arguably the most significant IT events of my life, and certainly one of the biggest of 2016.
But it’s important to remember that mergers of this scale don’t occur in a vacuum. In the past year, the way IT infrastructure is deployed, provisioned and managed inside the data center has been utterly transformed. There is massive pressure in the system:
- People are building new applications in new ways – rediscovering the art of software, and discovering that it is the key (along with the foundations of Cloud and Analytics) to digitizing themselves, their businesses. Things like Cloud Foundry are leading the way – along with a frothy/dynamic/exciting/disruptive container/cluster manager ecosystem.
- The days when compute, storage and networking were managed in isolation have come to an end. Public Cloud models are creating massive pressures on legacy IT operational models, and standalone server/network/storage business models. IT organizations are now migrating in droves to pre-integrated converged and hyper-converged infrastructure that simultaneously reduce both the total cost of acquiring and operating IT infrastructure. Not everyone is ready to “buy”, some want to “build” – which is why we need to have a continuum, but let’s be clear – there is a shift to “buy/consume” underway.
- Infrastructure itself at it’s best is boring and invisible. Being more outcome oriented (CI and HCI) rather than “build it yourself” still doesn’t get to the finish line. Those CI and HCI systems are being used to host private clouds of all shapes and sizes. Rather than trying to build IT infrastructure themselves most IT organizations have now discovered it’s now much simpler to buy converged systems optimized to host those private clouds. That approach enable those IT organizations to shift limit resources away from managing IT infrastructure to focus on applications that are being rolled out at a rate that is faster and more furious than ever.
- When it comes to the ingredient-level dialog, the storage market is being massively disrupted by two things – SDS/HCI and Flash. Dell EMC called 2016: The Year of All Flash. We made the statement for ourselves (to lead the disruption), for our customers (so they go fast) and for the market as a whole (so that inertia can be overcome).
… But I want to share a personal perspective, one that I shared with my team… as we enter the holiday season and the twilight of 2016, I’m a little reflective – as always, my notes are a little long, but from the heart. This is a look back at a crazy year from one person’s perspective (mine)….
WHAT A YEAR. IT SEEMS ONLY YESTERDAY….
… that in January I was blessed to become the new leader of a very, very successful startup named VCE – a startup that singlehandedly created the converged infrastructure market. It was time for VCE’s mission of delivering customer outcomes and make it the central, integral to an amazing technology giant – EMC.
It wasn’t going to be easy for us, and would challenge the core of the business, the leadership, and every single person, role and function. It would mean a changing identity, and material organizational changes. Heck on a personal level, it was going to be my first full blown general management gig. Lots to learn – and not f@#$ up :-)
As we stand here at the end of the year, the converged infrastructure business is doing great. We have continued to grow the business, and while I won’t say that all the challenges of integrating every part of the business from engineering, to product management, to product marketing, to customer service, to professional services, to every aspect of the GTM – I won’t say that it was easy on any of us, and I won’t say that we nailed everything, as a team, we have done incredibly well in shifting Converged Infrastructure from a “VCE thing” to an “everybody thing” – and that’s been central to our success.
At the start of the year – an important part of job was to start to lean the team into the Hyper-Converged Infrastructure market.
Together – in the span of only 12 months, we have created a business in VxRail and VxRack that will have generated huge new business for us in 2016 and more importantly has added a ton of customers (and many, many thousands of HCI nodes) to our converged business. In one year, we vaulted us from “not on the map” to the #2 position in the HCI marketplace. Our goal was to move into the #1 position by the end of 2017, and we will achieve that goal with VxRail and VxRack on their own in 2017.
We proved we could rapidly build a multi-billion dollar business in just a couple years with Vblock/VxBlock – and we’re doing it again with VxRail and VxRack.
Of course – no one ever has bought infrastructure for its own sake – and more than any other use case, people buy Converged and Hyper-Converged Infrastructure as the foundation for a well-run private cloud.
In 2016, we grew the Enterprise Hybrid Cloud business many hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues, and almost each of those customers chose to run on our Engineered Converged and Hyper-Converged Systems.
We’ve set ourselves up for an incredible 2017 when it comes to delivering on the true outcome our customers seek more than any other – simple, turnkey, economical Hybrid Cloud platforms for their existing and emerging applications. With the Native Hybrid Cloud we’ve built the simplest way for customers to deploy a 100% focused Pivotal Cloud Foundry developer’s stack, and with the Analytics Insight Module – we brought insights and analytics to the game. We have the best managed virtual private cloud platform for SAP in Virtustream, and in 2016, Virtustream got incredible Object Storage public cloud capabilities. All in all a great start – and something to build on.
I think we have a LONG way to go to make the Enterprise Hybrid Cloud simple enough, economical enough – but damn the torpedoes, we’re going to do it – watch. VxRail, VxRack SDDC/VMware Cloud Foundation as a vehicle to make our Enterprise Hybrid Cloud built on the VMware stack, coupled with our efforts with Microsoft around VxRack SDDC (stay tuned) will be a huge leap forward in 2017. The team (and I!) are stubborn, passionate, and committed.
… And we will make Pivotal Cloud Foundry a universal layer on all our Cloud offers – period.
Mid-way through the year, the news that Dell and EMC would come together to create a new technology powerhouse – Dell Technologies – uniquely positioned with the reach, the portfolio, the structure, the people to create the essential technology partner for the 4th industrial revolution.
The team charter expanded to cover the full “Build to buy Continuum” – with incredible strong validated solutions, to engineered systems, and hybrid cloud platforms.
As I’ve engaged with Cisco, with Microsoft, with Google and other technology giants – it’s clear to them that there a new powerhouse sitting across the table from them, willing to partner in new ways, with a posture that is something entirely new. It’s invigorating.
Furthermore, we picked up an incredibly strong partnership with Nutanix that created a massive HCI business built on Dell XC as a platform. In fact, if you add up VxRail and VxRack and Dell EMC XC – according to my math we may already be #1 when it comes to HCI market revenue share…. boom.
The Nutanix thing made many heads explode – but at its core, it’s pretty simple: for the next few years, the HCI market will not be a zero-sum game. In the early days of any market it is a case where gaining the maximum market share, the most customers is the winning strategy. In turn, that means we need a portfolio – some laser-focused on VMware (VxRail and VxRack SDDC) and others that aim for non-VMware use cases, and where customers trade off VMware integration for heterogeneity (VxRack FLEX and XC).
The heritage Dell team created a vision and executed on the observation that has become a central strategic pillar for all of Dell EMC as we come together: that the strongest position is to enable a broad set of modes of consuming infrastructure from “Build” (Reference Architectures, Bundles, Validated Systems), to “Buy” (Engineered Systems like XC and Hybrid Cloud platforms). That “Build to Buy continuum” gives us a chance to help customers get on the journey with us, and we can shift them as far towards the “Buy” and outcome-oriented end of the spectrum as possible.
The proof is clear: the Dell team on their full Blueprints program are well ahead of their $1B plan for 2016.
In coming together as Dell Technologies – well, it hasn’t been easy.
It can make your head spin. Many thousands of people’s roles and reporting structures changed in a matter of weeks. In our Converged Platform and Solutions team alone, there were more than 1000 moves – and I cannot thank the team, particularly Julie and our HR team. For the heritage VCE team – it’s the 2nd “acquisition and integration” wave in as many years.
This experience is truly humbling and deeply challenging for each and every one of us. It the biggest “who moved my cheese” events many of us will experience in our careers.
I truly believe that in decades to come, people will indeed do Harvard Business Case reviews of what we do and don’t do over the next 2 years. It will be a journey that will not be for everyone, and good people will vote themselves off the island. That said - I truly believe we have the opportunity as a team to do something absolutely amazing. Every person that chooses to leave creates an opportunity for someone. I truly believe that we have the opportunity to create something that will move the entire industry, and that’s worth fighting for.
I believe in my heart that our team, our mission of Converged Platforms and Solutions is the beating heart at the center of what Dell Technologies can do.
I relish the mission, I relish the challenge, I’m not afraid of it, and I’m not afraid of sharing that point of view publicly.
Fierce optimism and pragmatism in the face of difficult challenges is how amazing things happen.
Now – 2017 will be face-meltingly awesome. Let me tell you just SOME of the things to expect:
- We have some massive (wait for it!) tricks up our sleeves when it comes to Hybrid Cloud.
- We will continue to update VxBlock – it’s the most popular CI platform in the world. We’re going to keep doubling down and making it better.
- We will launch the industries’ best Microsoft Azure Stack offer on VxRack.
- We will build new partnerships in the Cloud Native ecosystem that will be very, very interesting.
- We will lean in on VxRack SDDC and VxRack FLEX – and continue to refine VxRail. The key on anything new that’s growing fast is to push boundaries, listen to feedback, and adjust and iterate fast.
- We will focus our efforts in Validated solutions in several areas: SAP, VDI/EuC, Microsoft SQL Server 2016, Analytics, and HPC – places where we can really move the needle in measurable ways
- We will work furiously to continue to improve our customer experience – key investments we’ve been making on things like how we build systems, how we deliver them, how we do lifecycle services – and super-critically, how we do solution/stack customer service have started to pay dividends. I’m not happy with where we are right yet, but leading indicators are good – and we will keep doubling down.
- We will keep growing the XC business – with an increasing focus on Microsoft (as some at the .NEXT event in Vienna noted) at the same time that we grow VxRail at an explosive rate – this isn’t a zero-sum game.
- We will blow people’s minds with something we’ve been working on in as a management and orchestration layer for converged and hyper-converged infrastructure that will change the game, and also act as a “glue” layer that pulls Dell EMC’s Infrastructure Solutions Group together.
- Externally, I **guarantee** that others – both startups and giants – will need to pursue other big moves, and many of them simply won’t make it.
2017 is going to be awesome.
Personally I’m pretty thankful:
- I’m glad to be here.
- I’m glad to be with people whom I love working with, and who teach me things.
- I’m glad to be learning furiously.
- I’m glad to have a shot to be part of a team striving to do big things.
- I’m glad to stand side by side with people – not just in Converged Platforms and Solutions – but across Dell Technologies who will fiercely face down the challenges together as a team. One team, one fight.
Now – forget about the business for a bit.
The end of a year is a time for family, for recharge, and for reflection.
The small rock we all inhabit and share has rotated around an average mid-life star one more time.
That thought doesn’t make us small – I think it makes life precious and everything that we do, every choice we make important. The immortal Carl Sagan once said this better than I ever could – reflecting on a photo taken by Voyager 1 from 6 billion km away in 1990. 2016 has had some bumpy periods, and I think we all need perspective.
I hope we strive to make the next cosmic rotation be special, and to be good to each other, and the people around us, and embrace a duty to make the world a little bit better every day… each of us in our own way.
I hope you all enjoy some time with your friends, with your family – and have a great holiday season!
One last THANK YOU – click on the picture below… from me, from the Converged Platform and Solutions team, and from Dell Technologies as a whole!