That's what happened at Christus Health System, which includes more than 40 hospitals and facilities in six states and Mexico. Christus, which uses EMC hardware for a 10-terabyte medical application and 50 Mbytes of medical-imaging data and off-site replication, had used EMC's plan-and-build services previously with success. Yet it was reluctant at first to have the company that it knew as a storage-hardware provider also provide it with consulting services around information-life-cycle management. "Two years ago, they were selling gear and more concerned about pushing gear than solving a business problem," says Mark Middleton, system director of data centers and infrastructure at Christus Health. But after having an executive briefing with EMC about its ILM services, the picture changed for Middleton. EMC's services staff is less focused on pushing its hardware as part of the sale, he says. In contract negotiations, EMC's bid, compared with another service provider's, "was more comprehensive, and we got better service for the money," he says. So EMC is helping Christus get its backup and recovery in order, in preparation for beginning its ILM process.
While most of EMC's services have so far been in the build-and-support arena, it's seeing growth with ILM services; assessment services to analyze a customer's application environment, recoverability strategy, operations, and infrastructure; and storage-infrastructure-management services, Elias says. From the end of 2002 to the end of last year, EMC's services head count grew in excess of 20% to more than 7,000 employees worldwide. The senior execs for EMC Technology Solutions, its customer- and professional-services division, are drawn from within EMC and from the services industry to add specific subject-matter expertise. For example, Derrell James, VP of EMC Technology Solutions, joined EMC from Perot Systems in 2002.
"We needed a change from entitlement of customer business to knowing we have to win it every day," Elias says.
Photo by Mark Ostow
Veritas Software Corp., a longtime EMC competitor in backup-and-recovery software, says EMC has conflicted interests that a pure software company doesn't bring to its services plays. "A lot is around [the software] you sell and how you service the customer," says Jeremy Burton, executive VP of data management at Veritas. "It'll be hard for EMC to compete in a market where the strategy is to ultimately buy less disk."
And IBM, of course, isn't ceding storage-related services to EMC. "We're a solutions provider, and it's all about providing software virtualization and storage management with consulting on the front end to hosted business recovery at the back end," says Andy Monshaw, general manager of storage at IBM.
Analyst Webster also questions how EMC will co-exist with service-provider partners that it may wind up competing with. "Partners could end up stepping on Joe's toes, and I don't think EMC would take that sitting down," he says. And he predicts that "if they really want to go after services, their next acquisition will be in the services space."
Tucci admits the company sees some interesting possibilities in regional services companies to help with its information-life-cycle-management strategy. But he also says he doesn't see problems ahead in EMC's relationship with some of the bigger services providers, such as Accenture and EDS. "I don't want to compete with them," he says, but rather to partner with them on projects in order to be involved in services such as hosting recovery.
Last year EDS tapped EMC as one of a number of technology partners whose equipment and software will form a standard backbone on which EDS wants to run the bulk of its customers' IT operations. And this spring EMC and EDS plan to launch a managed E-mail-archiving service. "EMC's services people have greater depth in certain industries, when companies are more interested in data," says Robb Rasmussen, VP Global Alliances at EDS. "EMC keeps up with business expertise around the data, building up business experts in the ILM service."
So far, the change in EMC seems to be resonating with customers. Countrywide Financial Corp. has used EMC storage for three years, but the vendor wasn't "an integral part of our daily lives," says Omer Simeon, executive VP of strategic initiatives. That changed when EMC acquired Documentum, which Countrywide was using. "When EMC picked up Documentum, it confirmed that a content philosophy was strategic and put more weight behind the Countrywide commitment," Simeon says. Before the acquisition, Countrywide didn't even think about EMC for data backup and recovery. "Now EMC provides the repository for all our critical data," including replication between data centers, making it the force behind the company's ability to process loans, key to running its business.
That's what Tucci likes to hear. "Software is what it's all about," he says. "Software always needs customization to get maximum benefit." That's where services come in and where EMC hopes to make its case.