Lou Gerstner's IBM famously showed that elephants can dance. However, the pressures of IT changes today are making it more difficult for the elephants of technology to be as nimble as the current crop of startups. I was reminded of this earlier in the week when I was in Las Vegas for EMC World. Interop was going on at the same time, and as it happens, my old employer NetApp was having a conference. They are all struggling to stay relevant in today's software-centric, flexible, cloud-ready, agile, self-service IT world. The good news for them is that they at least recognize this.
EMC is trying to develop a halo of innovation and software around it, with efforts such as EMCcode. At the show, the EMCcode booth of the container and software-focused startups had eight partners, from Avi Networks to Rancher Labs. It was interesting to interact with storage admins and architects about this brave new world of applications and cloud-scale. I was surprised by the interest and enthusiasm. In the demo theater where the startups presented, it was standing-room only for the hourly demos and pitches. Everyone left the Avi Demo excited and wanting to find out more, even if they were a storage guy. All-in-all, a good effort by EMC to bring the "suits" world of traditional IT into the "jeans and hoodies" crowd of DevOps.
At the NetApp event, I heard a big theme was "We are no longer a storage company. We are a data management company, and we do data management for applications." Perhaps this is the corner that the company needs to turn.
The good news in all of this is that customers benefit. We are innovating as fast as ever, focusing software on what it means for customers, and for our customers' customers. Everything is about getting applications into the hands of practitioners and making their lives easier, more productive, more engaging, and more valuable. Whether you're innovating in the hardware, in the storage, server or networking track, or in application services or the development of final applications themselves - always keep end customer in mind. They pay your bills. And they don’t care if you're an elephant or an ant, as long as you can dance.