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From May 8 to May 11, 2017, Dell EMC held its inaugural Dell EMC World conference in Las Vegas, NV. This is the first time, the now combined companies held a joint conference, and attendance was at a record high. Over 13,500 attendees were expected from over 120 countries.

The reason Neuralytix is highlighting Dell EMC in this subscription series is because of the commitment and investment Dell EMC is pouring into converged infrastructure (in all forms).

As usual, the (previously EMC only) conference has a theme that is roughly 18 months ahead of reality. This year, the theme was REALIZE, reflecting on the realization (read: monetization) through digital transformation. Key announcements included the upcoming release of the 14th generation of Dell PowerEdge servers to be released in conjunction with Intel’s next generation processors, VxRAIL 4.5, and the availability of all-flash versions of the entire storage portfolio.

But there was an undertone of the threat of AWS, Azure and Google Cloud to the delicately balanced Dell EMC ecosystem. Michael Dell recounting stories of customers sharing with him that public cloud is costing twice what private clouds cost for predictable applications, which make up 90% of the applications that are out there. These “predictable” applications include CRM, ERP, general transactional databases, etc. This finding is consistent with Neuralytix’s own research which shows that the public cloud starts to cost more than a private cloud somewhere from about 18 months onwards (depending on industry, applications, and a number of other parameters).

All the keynotes led to the culmination of how the Dell EMC merger resulted in a “better together” story around its converged platforms – vBlock, VxRAIL, and VxRACK. The selling point being simpler to buy, simpler to deploy, and simpler to manage.

While there was an undertone of concern about leading public cloud vendors, Dell EMC were quick to mention its partnership with them, and compatibility, but at the same time gently pushing its own Virtustream public cloud offering.

What stood out to Neuralytix about Dell EMC World 2017, is the amount of time and effort put into driving home the story around converged. Even when discussing the vast storage portfolio, which has been significantly consolidated, all resulted in converged.

For a number of years now, startups have slowly been eroding the edges of EMC’s potential and existing customers with similar offerings at a more aggressive cost. While Dell EMC remains the market leader by far, continuing to rely on selling standalone storage solutions will not advance Dell EMC to new successes. What it needs is the ability to control the customer from end-to-end. This comes by way of converged infrastructure, where a customer is dependent on Dell EMC to provide, sustain, develop, enhance, and support its entire infrastructure, while the IT staff focuses on information rather than infrastructure.

Through converged infrastructure (whether traditional converged, such as vBlock; or hyperconverged, such as VxRAIL and VxRACK), Dell EMC will always have the upper hand over its competitors because of its ownership of VMware. Converged customers will be led down the path to using VMware, which is still the vast majority of Dell EMC’s converged sales, and once the customer has invested in VMware, it is essentially locked into the Dell EMC ecosystem – especially if the customer deploys vSAN. Although Dell EMC touts its openness with solutions such as the Dell EMC XC converged system, based on Nutanix, and VxRACK FLEX that is designed for next generation application platforms such as OpenStack, etc. Neuralytix believes that ultimately, Dell EMC will want customers to move to a VMware based platform of some kind.

This is an incredibly smart move on the part of Dell EMC. Currently, Neuralytix does not see much competition for Dell EMC, except perhaps Nutanix itself. But HPE currently sells multiple software-defined datacenter (SDDC) software including SimpliVity, and Hedvig amongst others. Lenovo is partnering with essentially any SDDC solution that comes along, and that makes up a large chunk of the server vendors.

As Neuralytix has advised vendors in the past, it must take a leaf out of Dell EMC’s book, and have a compelling story to tell in converged. Reference architectures such as NetApp’s FlexPod is insufficient. Ultimately customers, both SMB and large enterprises will be looking for a “one stop shop” for its IT infrastructure both online and offline.