This past week I read an article in Owler that called out some statements made by Sun co-founder Vinod Khosla.

In the article Vinod discusses innovation as well as the EMC / Dell acquisition. Vinod said that he hasn't see Dell, EMC or IBM innovate in the last 30 years. I take a bit of exception to that. I have worked for both EMC and IBM and there is innovation going on in each of these companies. While EMC may jump head first into new markets with technology they acquire, having a strategy to integrate the technologies to deliver a better solution for its customers does show a level of innovation. For example, taking technology from Avamar, DataDomain and Networker, and merging some of their capabilities at different points within the infrastructure allows clients a better, more efficient way to protect their data. I do believe that having a vision with a number of assets and doing creative things with those assets is innovative.

Another example is IBM. (I'll speak in storage terms because that is my background.) They have invented more technologies than most on the planet. Take just their tape division for example. When it comes to developing the greatest densities in the world for storing data on tape, IBM did so by introducing new capabilities to how the tape was manufactured. (This one actually saw the light of day.) They also developed technology called "Ice Cube" - a highly dense, liquid cooled storage, server solution. Now that I think of it, this WAS the very first hyperconverged solution - unfortunately this never made it to market.

Here is the challenge with all of this is two fold. First, when you have a very large install base of customers that has an expectation that you will continue to evolve and support existing technology and solutions that has been sold to them. The more customers you have, the more features they want in products and solutions they have installed. It is very hard for most enterprises to just start fresh or renew environments with new, innovative technology. It is much easier for them to continue to add new capabilities that their existing products offer them. In addition, this support costs a good deal of money. Which translates into the second challenge. Wall Street. If businesses could take some of their profits and invest in trying to invent new things, that would be one thing, but Wall Street doesn't reward this. Wall Street doesn't look out 3, 5, 10 years, they want to know what you did for them this quarter.

I do agree that some of the greatest innovation has come from startup companies. However they have a big budget with out a high expectation of sales for a few years to develop, build and deliver a new capability. I get a lot of credit to not only those companies, but the folks that acquire them and figure out how to merge them into their portfolio to enable a growing business.

Don't get me wrong about the whole Dell / EMC thing. Being in a startup today, INFINIDAT, I am pleased that as they try to figure out what their strategy is, how they will acquire, what capabilities and technologies they will need to add to their portfolio, what technologies they will jettison, gives all vendors trying to compete in this market a leg up. Not because there is fear if the company will be around in a year, but more because existing clients will not know how they will continue to evolve the existing solutions they have purchased.

Last week Wikibon also had a good article about this to the EMC / Dell channel - and I would say it is for much the same reason. As the channel is looking to grow out its business, they need to know first, how is it going to support its existing customers they have sold to and second, what is the strategy to help them grow.

So Vinod, I have to disagree with you on this one.


business, data, Dell, EMC, Innovation, IT, moshe yanai, Owler, Storage, Vinod Khosla, Wall Street, wikibon