So I missed predicting anything like this one.
This seems to be taking lots of people by surprise, but it makes perfect sense: Dell is already a huge supplier of servers into not only the SMB market, but also enterprise and cloud providers. EMC needs to find ways to keep their expensive storage relevant, especially in an era of storage proliferation, do-it-yourself options that are more than merely good enough, and less and less need for “dedicated” storage (though you still need flash in the underlying arrays, contrary to what Todd Mace thinks).
Thin provisioning, on-demand storage expansion and contraction (ok, ok – so the “contraction” part is not common), separation of duties via *aaS architectures, and more has been pushing EMC not so much to a bit or bench player, but into a corner of making it harder and harder to justify their pricing.
Silver Lake & Michael Dell obviously see the benefit of doing what some have claimed as the biggest merger in tech history (the Compaq-HP debacle was ~$25 billion back in 2001; AOL-TimeWarner was ~$106 billion, but not a pure tech merger). But the benefit is not the synergy of storage and servers.
Nor is it the management software, services groups, great corporate management, or anything of the kind.
That is why Dell et al wanted EMC. And why they’re willing to pay $67 billion in cash, stock, debt, etc to get it.
This move perfectly pivots Dell, already maneuvering away from “just” servers into a major competitor in the cloud space – especially the enterprise cloud space.
HP and IBM have their own storage and server offerings (IBM’s x86 offerings are all Lenovo now since they sold them off, but whatever) – but they don’t have the virtualization platform to bring it about in a soup-to-nuts way. Of course, HP and IBM will happily put VMware onto servers they sell you (IBM will also happily sell you non-x86 gear with their pSeries and zSeries stuff, but those are discussions for another day).
Oracle is really the only main competition to the hybrid Dell-EMC company which will emerge, via their acquisition of Sun a few years ago (which is also a whole other conversation).
It’ll be interesting to see how the future HPE will try to compete against future Dell.