We invited a significant number of institutional investors and industry analysts to a day-long session where we laid out EMC's overall strategy in a fair amount of detail.
If you're looking for "big thoughts" from EMC at this event, there were plenty to be had.
So many, in fact, that I will probably end up writing at least a dozen or more posts as a result of this event.
Part of the event was webcast -- you can find the link here. Warning: it's long -- 2 hours -- but if you really want to get a sense of where EMC and VMware are heading, it might be worth your time.
In this post, I thought I'd recap some of Joe's opening remarks, and add a bit of my own personal color.
Now, typically when you get a bunch of instituional investors together, all they want to do is talk about the financial side of you company, your marketplace, your competition, your customers, etc. etc.
Well, there's not a lot that can be said about any of that right now for a variety of reasons, so the exclusive focus of the event was on strategy.
The structure of the day was pretty simple. Joe Tucci and Paul Maritz delivered extended keynotes -- real ones, with lots of beef.
This part was webcast.
The goal of the breakouts was to do a bit more of a deep-dive in smaller formats -- allow more discussion and debate.
Although none of this was webcast or made publicly available, I'm probably going to take some of the presentations and share them here, since they too had some pretty advanced thinking in them as well.
So, What Did Joe Start With?
As usual with these sorts of events, you want to take a quick look back to set some context, and then focus on what everyone's interested in -- what happens next?
Now, that might seem pretty blinkin' obvious to many of our readers, but it's especially important for EMC these days.
We've made a ton of acquisitions. As a result, we're now far more than just a storage company. We've got all sorts of pots on the stove, boiling away so to speak.
Meanwhile, other major players in IT are moving into entirely new markets (Cisco), bulking up on services (HP), or in the process of moving away from products and entirely into services (IBM).
So the statement "what kind of company is EMC?" is an important one on several levels. Especially if you're an investor or an analyst.
What About VMware?
Joe made it very unambiguous and very clear -- EMC divesting from VMware wasn't going to happen anytime soon.
And, as they day progressed, both Joe and Paul progressively made stronger cases as to why the two companies were better together than not.
I can't tell how the investment community reacted to this statement, but one thing is for sure: there should be no uncertainty or doubt as to what the strategic intent is, and that alone is a good thing.
Not so much to brag, but to remind people that we were doing well, and had made some pretty good bets over the last few years.
The focus on free cash flow is becoming increasingly important.
In this economy, cash is king. And any business that throws off significant amounts of cash has the freedom and luxury of playing the game aggressively.
But remember, this wasn't an earnings call, so no new information was presented regarding financial outlooks, just a replay of earlier statements already on the record.
First and foremost, there's technology innovation. Not the pedantic "who thought of it first?" type of discussion that many people get mired into, more of the "here are the technologies EMC brought to market that customers voted for with their dollars" kind of way.
He (and many of us) believe that EMC played a major role in driving virtualization mainstream -- both in financially supporting VMware's initiatives as part of our ownership model, but also using the mainstream of EMC itself in accelerating virtualization into data centers around the globe.
Joe talked also about how EMC had entered new markets -- commerical, SMB, consumer -- as well as important verticals such as Oil and Gas. International expansion into "BRIC + 13" countries was discussed as well -- a major investment in resources, talent and product localization to capitalize on these growing markets.
But Joe probably spent the most time on TCE -- Total Customer Experience -- EMC's long-running end-to-end initiative to transform how customers experience EMC in every aspect of their interaction with us.
Over the last few years, we've moved from blocking and tackling to more innovative and substantive engagement models -- something we all think is very important, and an area that we will continue to invest in.
The Economic Outlook
Either way you look at it, the weather's not particularly good out there right now.
Joe made a good point that we're still meeting CIOs who don't have budget for the current year. And, even those that do, frequently have to take proposed expenditures to some sort of management board for approval.
Joe used the phrase "just in time, just enough" IT spending to describe the mood. No big ELAs or enterprise deals. Just spend enough to get through the immediate need, while staying on the path to a better future.
That's all for now ... more in the next posts ...