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January 8, 2010

EMC to big four in systems management: we’re coming for you

What can EMC Ionix bring to the party?

By Jason Stamper

EMC’s Ionix systems and network management division is coming out fighting, after a series of seven acquisitions in the last five years and a re-branding effort that it feels means it is now ready to threaten the big four in systems management: that’s BMC, CA, HP and IBM.

“Saying what we’re saying today would have been a bit premature two years ago,” Colin Murray, regional VP of EMC Ionix for EMEA told CBR in a recent interview. “We’ve done a total of seven acquisitions, with two in Spring [2009] that we think means we’ve got the map covered to compete with the big four.”

Those acquisitions have included SMARTS, Voyence and Infra. But until the firm settled on calling this new unit EMC Ionix, Murray concedes that it had something of a branding issue. The name Ionix, incidentally, wasn’t one of the acquired companies but is a brand new name – apparently quite a few options were rejected by EMC CEO Joe Tucci before EMC Ionix got his stamp of approval.

Murray said the unit has 20 products in four main areas: discovery, service management, operations and data centre automation.

So what’s different about EMC Ionix compared to what is on offer from the big four and others? “I think the lines are blurring between servers, storage and the network,” Murray said. “You need a unified infrastructure block – a management layer on top that can perform equally well in all these areas. I think that gives us a chance to leapfrog some of the other players.”

Murray said that the introduction of server virtualisation amongst many enterprises also levels the playing field when EMC Ionix is competing with the systems management incumbents: “It’s all changed so much especially with virtualisation – we’ve got the potential to spring into the top three from where we are today, perhaps in five or six,” Murray said.

“Our mission is to simplify the world of management software,” Murray said. “We think the vendor who can simplify this will succeed. The complexities in IT have in many cases outgrown the capabilities of the in-house IT team.”

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Murray said there are around 1,000 staff in the EMC Ionix division today. He said that while the division will be using EMC’s vast salesforce as one route to market, he accepted that EMC Ionix is competing for their attention with all of EMC’s other product lines. Nevertheless, he said there is, “Starting to be a real buzz about EMC Ionix inside EMC and outside, too.”

The other route to market is through channel partners, including the likes of Accenture, Cap Gemini and Dimension Data.

Asked whether EMC Ionix may get more into the user experience management space, where it doesn’t currently have products, Murray said: “Yes, we might. We are certainly moving more into the application management arena.”

“You need to be able to optimise applications that are not optimal and provision those optimal applications onto the application stack,” Murray said. “I think in the future we will be investing more in application management.”

But asked whether that signalled a likely acquisition in that space, Murray said, “I would be surprised. I think we’ve got the pieces that we need.”

Murray said EMC Ionix has around 600 customers in EMEA, and is seeing a trend of deal sizes getting larger as the firm is able to solve broader systems, storage and network management challenges.


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