EMC CEO Joe Tucci: 20 Tough Talking Points For 2011

In His Own Words

EMC CEO Joe Tucci, who celebrated his 10th anniversary as CEO of the storage giant this year with a new VNXe/VNX storage product family that raises the bar in the intensely competitive storage marketplace, does not mince words when discussing his company's partnerships, products or his channel philosophy.

Here are 20 tough talking points for 2011 from the straight-talking, no-nonsense CEO from an exclusive interview with CRN.

Photo by Danielle Faletra

On Competitors Bullying VARs

I think this bullying of VARs and channel partners is just yesterday's newspaper. And they are not going to stand for it. And they don't have to stand for it with vendors saying if you take on that vendor you are going to be cut-off. It is just not the way the world is built. It is just ultimately a losing strategy. I promise I am not going to cut off their choice. I am going to try to win a bigger share of their business.

Photo by Danielle Faletra

Dell Will Not Resell VNXe/VNX

In this product line there is no Dell partnership. In any conversations we have had with Dell, Dell will not take up this partnership. They will not resell this product. The core of the (EMC) family has got to be a competitor to Dell's storage products. Part of the (Dell) PowerVault plays there. Most of (Dell) EqualLogic plays there.

Photo by Danielle Faletra

On The Impact The Dell Fallout Will Have On EMC Partners

I think it is a great opportunity for our partners. Obviously some channel partners -- maybe all channel partners -- would see Dell as a competitor. Here we are saying -- 'Don't worry about it -- Dell is not getting this product.'

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Surprising Competitors With VNXe Ease Of Use/Pricing

I don't believe there is anything out there easier to use. So that is the real surprise.

We are going to make sure this is the simplest array to configure, to install, to use. We are going to make sure that our hallmarks are there: functionality, performance and reliability. And I think we will surprise hopefully competitors and definitely our customers with the price points that we will set.

Photo by Danielle Faletra

On The Power of EMC's Unisphere

It is hugely important. It gives you a way of managing unified storage whether it be iSCSI, Fibre Channel or NAS (Network Attached Storage) and different tiers of drives.

You are automating a whole set of FAST (Fully Automated Storage Tiering) technology with Unisphere. It takes a lot of the complexity and masks it.

On The Cloud Computing Revolution

I do believe that private clouds, public clouds and hybrid clouds are where it is going. So assets to make that (happen) are going to be big. It is all about how do I transform what you are doing today in your data center giving you some of the advantages that some of these big cloud providers get and how do I create a whole set of service provider cloud capabilities using those exact same set of technologies.

On Advice For Partners Monetizing Cloud Computing

My advice would be: don't forget it is a journey. How different is 2011 going to look versus 2010? It will progress, but still most customers will buy the exact same way they bought last year. Maybe they will try one or two (cloud) applications. It is a journey to the cloud. You have got to understand and feel it and approach it in phases and meet customer's needs every step of the way. Customers are not going to say I will be there tomorrow. It is a multi-year journey.

On Keeping Up EMC's Acquisition Pace

I promise you there will be acquisitions. I promise you the pace won't change that much. Our high year was I think just a tick less than $4 billion (spent on acquiring companies). And I think our low year was just a tick less than $1 billion. Use that as a guide.

On EMC Technology Innovation

The one thing that I always say is: we have got to have distinctive products. There is no substitution for that. None. And that is where it all starts. We are a product company. And I just told you how we get our great products: we innovate. That innovation can come from EMC through the $2 billion we invest in R&D (each year). And that innovation can come from the great things we see out there that we acquire. That innovation can also come from companies we partner with. That is it. That is our innovation engine.

On Commitment To Channel Partners

We are going to make sure that we are a good partner. We are a loyal partner. We are going to make sure we give you products that are hyper-competitive in the market. And we are going to make sure that we understand your goals for margins. And we are going to make sure that we take your goals, our goal and make sure that you get the margin targets you need to be successful.

On The Need To Always Be Listening To Partners

There are always things you need to do better. You need to always be listening. You need to be never satisfied that you are doing a good enough job for your channel. I promise that we will be listening. I will be listening. And the company will be listening. We don't have it perfect but we will work with you.

On EMC's Pledge To Work With Service Providers

We are going to work with service providers (rather than do hosting ourselves). That is a key message that you can get to your readers. You have to decide what you are going to do in life and what you are not going to do in life. And you need partners. Any company that thinks they are strong enough to do it alone is probably a good [stock] short. You need partners. And we believe that service providers are core partners. Therefore if I believe that I shouldn't go compete with them. And these channel partners by the way -- all channel partners -- are key and I don't want to compete with them. I want to make sure that our model (assures) that we can do well and they can do well .

On The Progress That VCE/Acadia Is Making In the Market

Obviously our goals and our vision is big. So you are never satisfied. But I am incredibly happy with the progress we have made.There is a lot more we need to do whether it is (Cisco CEO) John Chambers, whether it is myself or (Acadia CEO) Michael Capellas. We have some big goals set out for VCE. We are saying that business is ahead of the plan that we set for it which is pretty darn aggressive.

On How Intel Processors Are Changing The World

It is absolutely changing the world. It is making it a better world for customers. The power in these chipsets is phenomenal, phenomenal! And then of course using software in novel ways you can create the ease of use, the reliability, the ability to encrypt. I can go on and on and on. There are just tremendous things you can do once you are given that kind of power by these phenomenal processing units that Intel is giving us.

On Commitment To Be Number One In SMB Storage

You can't do it day one. You can't do it year one. But just like we did when we entered mid-tier our goal is to be number one. It took us a couple of years to accomplish it. Two to three. I am not giving any time frames here. But that is going to be our goal. If we are going into a market we want to be the largest.

On EMC's 2011 Q1 Product Blitz

Usually you talk about the product road map for the year. We had a strong product road map for 2010. And we had products that came out in Q1,Q2, Q3, Q4. And we do this year too. The difference this year is the preponderance of them come out in Q1. We never did that before. The good part of that is because it is Q1 you have them the whole year to sell! This is the strongest lineup we have ever had.

On The Economic Outlook For 2011

Most of the forecasts that you read and the surveys that have been done by financial analysts and industry analysts show decent growth for 2011. You are seeing positive GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth globally. You are seeing IT growth in excess of GDP growth. So that is good. I think barring a horrific act from outside that is uncontrollable, an act of nature, an act of terrorism, I think we'll be okay.

On The Next Wave Of IT Automation

More and more you are going to describe what you want done and you are going to actually let the system do it rather than having to manage every element of a system that you manage today. So it is basically, 'How do you go from a highly managed environment to a highly automated environment?' That will save you much more money in op-ex (operating expense based IT) than it will cap-ex (capital expenditure IT projects). But you will save in both. Your infrastructure costs will go down. Your operating expenses, which is where most of the money is, will go down even faster.

On The Secret To His Success

It is never being satisfied. It is getting great people. It is getting those great people to work together as a team and understanding that you can't possibly, possibly even come close to going it alone.

On His Cloud Computing Vision For EMC

If we do it right, this IT as a service wave, which is called cloud computing, like any other wave, will have winners and losers. What has happened in these other waves is companies have tended to win big and lose big. I think if we ride this wave well I think hopefully we could be one of the most important companies associated with success in this next wave.