EMC endemic structural problems
are largely twofold, both of which come down to the EMC staff and sales strategy.
Firstly, there are a lot of very highly paid sales people and tenured employees who believe that they fat salaries are justified, when really they skill sets are insufficient to justify their position. EMC's costs of sales are out of line with the market pricing of their products resulting in a margin (aka bottom line profitability) squeeze.
Secondly, though Joe Tucci has tried to convert EMC to a software company.
Rather than leading with software and dragging the hardware, the aforementioned tenured sales teams continue to lead with hardware and bundle the software to secure the sale, reducing the value ot both and profitability across the board.
This has forced EMC sales to add multiple layers of overlays who are specializing in various software attributes, so that they can go out and sell the value of the software.
All this does is double the cost of sales on those software lines.
As with all large companies, EMC has its issues with product quality, but there's a lot right with it. The Clariion is solid, the DMX range is reliable, albeit priced in Rolls Royce territory, which is a shame because you can buy faster (eg Panasas, 3PAR), more scalable (eg HDS) gear for less and many of these customers today purchasing DMX level would be just as satisfied with the Clariion lines, if their sales reps were a little more honest about what is really required to get the job done.
EMC is encroaching on NetApp with their NAS and iSCSI offerings, although the NS range is a little more clumsy to install and operate. The Vmware issues will persist as standards emerge in the hypervisor space and Microsoft shows muscle with Hyper-V. Vmware is really good software and will continue to be the best in class, but good enough (Hyper-V, Xen + the half a dozen others) will be good enough for many customers.
EMC's software business is in fair shape and - credit where credit's due - they've spun quite a bit of silk from the sow's ear that was Networker. The Avamar star seems to burn bright but I'm not sure where they are going with the OEM stuff from Quantum, which just doesn't seem to stack up well against Data Domain's offerings.
The business that EMC is doing their Dell channel has dropped considerably from a couple of years ago, which is a shame because this was consistently a profitable business channel for EMC. I'm surprised that the EMC execs have let this perpetuate as far as it has, despite the concerns about Dell's Equallogic acquisition. Rumor on the street indicates just as much friction as ever between the EMC and Dell sales teams.
EMC's non-Dell channel business looks okay, but again the tier-2 storage companies are growing and remain a threat, due to the resellers using these lines as differentiators and because they pay larger margins. Who would want to be an EMC reseller when you have EMC direct, 4 other channel partners and Dell to compete with every time? I believe that EMC will continue to walk this path well, however.
Fire, because I think that a lot of people at EMC are going to get burned once Tucci lights a fire under their asses.