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Integrated Dell EMC Hits The Ground Running

EMC has presented a surprisingly united front at its recent Dell EMC World held in the company’s home town of Austin, Texas. An array of new products, tweaked products, and consistent branding across the board has cemented my view that the integration of the two original companies, Dell and EMC, is not just going well, it’s going amazingly well.

The theme for the event was Transformation, which is a vague, inspirational sounding term common to these corporate love-ins but, unlike previous years, this event had plenty of substance aligned with the overall theme.

The VxRAIL and VxRACK lines now use PowerEdge servers to drive them, and PowerEdge is available for the Data Domain backup product as well as the Elastic Cloud Service. The Isilon NAS line now has an all-flash option. Boffins are working on adding the FluidFS NAS filesystem to the currently block-only XtremIO all-flash array, which will make it multi-protocol. Everything proudly wears the new Dell EMC branding consistently across the board.

This is impressive stuff for a deal that closed a mere six weeks ago. Clearly work began on many of these integrations before the official close date, so there was never any doubt inside the company that the deal would go through.

Conversations with staff, partners, and customers provided a consistent view of a peaceful acquisition. There are probably some people who are unhappy with aspects of the transition, but they were not among the people who spoke to me. Everyone told a story of an acquisition that was handled internally with transparency and a clarity of purpose that will end up in business school case-studies in years to come. As Michael Dell was keen to point out, this has created the world’s largest tech company, with an array of number one positions, depending on how you count things.

Lest we get too caught up in the KoolAid festival, the story isn’t perfect. Dell himself blanked on a question about the OS10 networking product during the press Q&A after his keynote, and needed a reminder from a small group of fellow bloggers, most notably Keith Townsend who was next to me. Dell handled it well — saying it proved he didn’t know everything, to laughter in the room — but networking has been a bit of a blind spot for Dell (the company) historically, and it would be good to see more investment into the networking side of Dell EMC.

The show floor itself was a pretty meagre affair, and the non-infrastructure parts of the Dell Technologies empire were poorly represented. Virtustream made a solid appearance. The VMware absence can be put down to VMworld Barcelona running this week as well, and VMware US was a couple of months ago, but I wanted to see more from Pivotal. The IoT display was also interesting, but the focus was clearly on PCs and data centers.

When asked if Dell Technologies will bring out a mobile phone, Dell was as unequivocal as he was brief: “No.”

Dell EMC has committed to continuing the Dell tradition of partnering broadly, taking a longer view than trying to win a big deal up front. The newly merged company seems to be settling back into its role as a company that no one really loved, but didn’t hate either. They simply got on with things, providing reliable, if boring, IT plumbing. It might not be as exciting as the next new thing in startupland, but it pays the bills, apparently quite well.

As someone who was skeptical that the two company’s cultures would or could be compatible, I freely admit that I appear to be wrong. Dell has so far managed to pull off the deal of the decade, and competitors underestimate Dell EMC at their peril.

It might all fall apart, but I saw no signs of that happening at the show.

I traveled to Dell EMC World as a guest of Dell Technologies/Dell EMC. I also received a Dell XPS 15 laptop just before the show. My company paid for various incidentals, including travel insurance, and a fees for a change to my travel plans. Full disclosure of hospitality provided to me at the show will be available on my blog once I find the time to write it up.

This article first appeared in Forbes.com here.

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