The massive pace of technological change is compelling EMC to reassess how it goes to market with its enterprise alliance partners, and while changes to the strategy are very much a work in progress, they are likely to bring significant change to the relationship between the vendor, its alliance partners, and solution providers.
LAS VEGAS – At EMC’s 2015 Global Partner Summit, the central theme was the importance of developing solutions around the EMC Federation, with several initiatives being unveiled to encourage partners to become involves in developing Federated Solutions. The same energy is being channeled at EMC’s global alliances level, to try and develop initiatives with the company’s strategic partners which will facilitate complex cutting-edge solutions, and integrate them with those partners’ own capabilities to solve the challenging problems of today and tomorrow.
“We are going through a process right now where we are looking to realign our alliances strategy,” said Jay Snyder, EMC’s freshly minted SVP of EMC Global Alliances, an EMC veteran who has only been in this role for a matter of days, after his predecessor, Chris Riley, was moved to run the enterprises business in the Americas. “Is that strategy broken? No, it isn’t. Does it have the opportunity to evolve? Yes, it does, because the market has evolved a lot in the last two years.”
That frenetic pace of change had led Chris Riley to the same conclusion, that EMC had to transform how they went to market with their enterprise alliance partners in order to stay ahead of those changes.
“Last year, we embarked on a very ambitious strategy of building our partner ecosystem in which we tried to ask key questions in order to better connect with that ecosystem,” Riley said. “How do we better leverage power of the ecosystem and our alliance partners? For that matter, are we even developing the right solutions?”
Riley said that it became apparent they had a lot of value and that EMC and its partners can ‘redefine next’ if they move together. He broke the alliances business down into four functional areas: telcos and service providers; industry verticals; systems integrators and outsourcers; and OEMs. He also emphasized that the EMC Federation was as critical to the success of these partners as to EMCs broad solution provider partner base.
“Global alliances is where the Federation comes together as well,” he said.
Riley said that each of these areas needs improved focus. For example, on industry verticals, they need tighter alignment with vertical ISVs.
“To unlock that value, we need domain expertise,” he said. “We are focusing on those verticals growing at 3-5 times the market, where we see growth for the next 5-7 years. This includes health care, life sciences, energy public sector and SLED.”
Similarly, for service providers, Riley said they need to focus on three core elements. They need to be clearer about their services catalogue, what they services are they are building. They need clearer rules of engagement. And they need to be simpler and easier to do business with, particularly by improving back end processes.
Enter Snyder, into this process that has already begun. Like Riley, he concluded that EMC’s old transactional strategy will no longer work.
“We began an internal consulting project to look at our overall strategy, not just our alliances but sales, services, marketing, even product marketing, to make sure we have the right set of strategies. Once that’s done – and right now it’s not – we will look at whether we have the right people and processes in place, and we may find we might have to make a slight turn to the left or the right.”
Snyder, like Riley, believes that what is needed out of the alliances organization going forward is not what was needed before.
“We need differentiated products and solutions, pulled from our own products within the Federation, and also from the Alliances arena,” he said. “It’s about how to best leverage the SIs, and the systems outsourcers like CSC, and the service providers like Rackspace, and the OEMs, to leverage how they get consumed within these channels. We need to better integrate our verticals, for example how to best address them with our integrators, and how best to bring in EMC.”
Snyder said while there are no easy answers how to do this more effectively, things can be done to improve the working relationships and make it easier to do business with each other.
“I think on this front things are going okay, but we are probably working more in parallel with these partners than we are working together,” he said. “We do have a very strong go-to-market with Deloitte around IT transformation, in which EMC, VMware and Deloitte work closely. I think you will see more and more of those types of relationships come to fruition.”
The Cloud Partner Connect Program, which EMC introduced a year ago, where EMC matches cloud service providers with reseller partners, was cited as another example of this type of relationship, which has had a huge response since its adoption.
“Cloud Connect is the first step in creating a cross functional set of offerings where traditional resellers can leverage the service providers,” Snyder said. “EMC helping to create an integrated oil and gas solution that the SI can then take to market would be another example.”
The Federated Solutions, which are just in their infancy, have massive potential here, Snyder stressed.
“The data lake and the hybrid cloud are great examples,” he said. “Those are the only two offerings EMC has today that are fully integrated solutions. Everything else we have are still products. Bringing the best of what the Federation has to offer can change all this, and put a lot of solution engineering together.”
These complex cutting edge offerings – things which were science fiction not long ago – are massively complex, and Snyder considered the question of whether effectively developing them with Alliance partners will have the effect of reducing the broad solution provider partner momentum that EMC has developed over the past decade.
“I don’t think it does limit things,” he said. “There are some things we do very well, and some things our enterprise partners do very well. A systems integrator, for example, brings a whole level of expertise tying this work to business outcomes. But there are many technical products like Chef and Puppet which the SIs are not steeped in but which solution providers are. I see a world in which we can leverage the channel’s knowledge in these areas as well, as well as their knowledge of their existing customer base, in these relationships involving EMC and multiple partners.”
On a broad scale, Snyder acknowledged this isn’t happening today, but he said market trends make this inevitable.
“Developing the rules of engagement for this will be a challenge, because everyone wants to maximize their own opportunity,” he said. “But there is so much opportunity that people are willing to take a step back and acquiesce, because while you may not get all the opportunity, the piece you get is a lot bigger than it used to be. That’s also why a lot of partners are evolving their business to be more like SIs.”