Tuesday’s Dell EMC Canadian Summit held in downtown Toronto was all about the theme of digital transformation and what organizations are doing to change their business models to adapt to the new digital world. It’s a big theme, and one where the company acknowledged that many customers – and some partners – still have a lot of work to do.
“IT transformation, your workforce, and security – those are the three pillars in the model our customers are looking at, and we focused on those areas,” said Michael Sharun, President of Dell EMC Canada’s Enterprise Division. “A major issue however, is that many customers still see digital transformation as a buzz phrase. As an industry, we are good at creating holistic statements that mean a variety of things. We try and move customers past that by aligning it to what someone is doing within an organization. We try to show them how they can change what they are doing today, to automate some of the processes to get to the speed that the business requires.”
Sharun emphasized that customers and partners both need to understand how the industry has fundamentally changed.
“The business used to be all about building IT,”: he said. “But today, we are all about consuming IT and not building IT, and the whole industry has to figure out how to respond to this.”
Partners need to grasp how this changes the way this revolutionizes their business.
“Much more work is now being done in applications, that used to be plumbing and foundations,” he said. “But with hyper-converged infrastructure today, almost every workload can be run on them. Partners have to think of not just knitting the infrastructure together, but of knitting the applications together at a different level. It enables them to do much more relevant work for customers, and – should help them get higher within their customer’s organization.”
Sharun said another key message for both customers and partners was to look at the full range of Dell EMC technologies.
“We wanted to get the message across around the customer experience, and wanted to show the marketplace the breadth of the Dell technologies,” he said. “We don’t want people to look at us as siloed technologies, but want them to look at us across all the families.”
Sharun acknowledged that Dell EMC has a massive and complex array of offerings, but said that they try to help customers see how to apply them by breaking things down into holistic chunks.
“If you dive deep enough into anything, there are all these moving parts and changes that will drive you crazy,” he said. “If we show customers how they can look at things in holistic chunks, within our pyramid of offerings, it becomes much easier. We identify a problem and break it down into manageable pieces so people can consume it.”
Sharun said that the merger has made this kind of holistic thinking easier for both Dell and EMC.
“It was harder before the merger, because neither of us had a solution that really drove a well-defined customer experience all the way from the desktop to the data centre,” he said. “The merged company makes this all much clearer than it used to be. Legacy EMC never had a compute platform. On the Dell side, their strength was never in the data centre.”
Sharun said that many partners need to learn this same lesson.
“Partners have to start looking across all of the family members of Dell Technologies,” he said. “Hyper-converged takes away all that work you used to have to do to build things. We don’t build those things any more. Now it’s about where the applications should best reside. Partners have to start managing customers horizontally rather than vertically, looking at where do workloads go, and how to build service catalogues. This is immensely valuable and generates value for their customers.”
Partners have become much more comfortable with the integrated company.
“They are much more comfortable today than they were three months ago,” he said. “We now branching out, with old EMC partners adding things like workstations and networking, on top of what they were doing with EMC. We are seeing more partners who were primarily Dell partners bringing us into data centres.”
Sharun noted as well that the event saw Dell EMC review their products and technologies that drive that digital transformation, to do things faster and better and with better business outcomes.
“During the session, the customers were pretty quiet,” Sharun said. “More was asked during the day in the one-on-ones as we went along. They wanted to know what we are doing next form a converged perspective. They wanted to know more about all the software layers that are out there, and how we would support OpenStack, the Azure stack and the public cloud. We got lots of questions on where we see the whole public-private-hybrid cloud thing mixing out.”
Sharun acknowledged that despite the industry’s efforts, many customers are still confused about hybrid cloud strategies.
“They’ve been told ‘cloud, cloud, cloud,’ but a lot still don’t have a feel of what kind of workloads should move to the cloud, when they should move, or what should stay,” he said. “We emphasize that if the workload changes a lot, then it’s something that should probably move it off-prem, to take advantage of the cloud’s burst capability.”
Security was also a big focus for customers, in terms of what Dell EMC is doing there.
Security is still very fragmented, across the industry, Sharun noted.
“There is not a complete suite of security tools customers can find from one provider, although I think we are closer than most to getting there,” he said. “Thinking of SecureWorks as a managed service for threat detection, will, I believe, be more prevalent in the future. For partners, having that kind of managed service to augment those big SOCs is where its going.”