EMC's New Equation

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No CEO has done a better job in the technology industry of transforming a company through acquisitions than EMC's Joe Tucci.

When Tucci took the helm eight years ago, EMC was a big iron storage player with no channel footprint and a mere 24 percent of sales coming from software and services. Today, the company, which rose to prominence selling storage hardware with its knock-down-the-door, red-meat direct sales force, is a significant channel player with 56 percent of its business coming from software and services.

Can be reached via e-mail at sburke@everythingchannel.com.

Tucci took a beating in his first year as CEO. The dot-com meltdown was in full force and the lumbering hardware giant posted a loss of $507 million for 2001. More than a few industry watchers were wondering if Tucci had the mettle to pull the storage giant out of its tailspin.

A lot has changed since then. Tucci has made more than 41 acquisitions, including some blockbusters that put EMC into the catbird's seat in dominant strategic growth markets like virtualization (VMware) and security (RSA). And last week, Tucci captured yet another company that is just as strategic: high-flyer Iomega.

The Iomega deal brings EMC a $350 million consumer and small-business storage business. It also once again expands EMC's channel footprint, this time with significant big-box retailer relationships. And it gives EMC more managed services offerings that partners can exploit given Iomega's e-mail, instant messaging archiving and security services lineup. Those complement EMC's Mozy online backup service, which Tucci acquired last October.

Tucci is no fool. He has carefully pushed EMC into every monster opportunity on the horizon. And it's no small matter that they all involve the channel: VMware is making a huge channel push with technology that is reshaping the entire IT landscape in a manner not seen since the Internet revolution; RSA is doing the same with its authentication security technology, which was just beefed up last week. And now Iomega is in the channel mix.

Tucci's biggest challenge going forward may well be growing and managing the channel business. That is going to mean paying close attention to things like partner profitability and channel conflict. Tucci's genius has been realizing that EMC's future lies beyond the sum of its many parts. Call it Tucci's theory of relativity (E=mc2). It's a powerful equation that will pay off handsomely as long as the company keeps its
channel in tip-top shape.

What's your take on Tucci's turnaround?
E-mail me at sburke@everythingchannel.com.

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