I’m at VCE’s analyst event this week and this organization is unique. What has always fascinated me is that this is the only company that can bring up customers who buy its products over the objections of their staff and prove itself smarter than the staff as a result. But it is hard to describe the unit because it is just so different. The screwy thing is that I don’t think it should be. In this industry, we use car examples a lot, but the thing is, I think the high-tech industry, particularly in the raised floor back office parts of the industry, is more like a kit car industry where we build our own cars. And VCE is the only dedicated unit designed to build our cars for us.
Let me explain.
The Car Factory
I ran into this Car Factory outfit a few weeks back. My hobby is cars and I have this project Jaguar that I’ve been modifying the hell out of. When I was a kid, I always wanted a hot custom car. I had a hot-looking car with a big engine, but I’m pretty sure a reasonably configured VW was faster. Now I can afford to do it right, but the trade-off is that while I can get something fast and unique, I sacrifice reliability and serviceability in the process. If I take the car to a dealer, they’ll spend their time “fixing” what I’ve done to get the car back to something they can understand, which means I’m stuck with having to fix it myself (and I’m a bit out of date on my car skills) or having an independent mechanic try to figure out how to fix my unique vehicle.
What The Car Factory does, well, one of the things, is take a new car from the factory and put an exotic body and interior on it. They have a relatively fixed set of modifications they do so they become expert at it. The end result is something that is really unique and custom to you, but they, or another shop, can still service the result. In fact, these are likely far less expensive to maintain than a true exotic and some of the designs are based on ideas that the mainstream car makers are thinking of for next decade. More importantly, the core parts are mostly stock and can be serviced just like a new car (though I expect warranties are still problematic).
In the technology market, we have servers, storage and networking, all of which come together to form some kind of solution that IT often has to assemble. Yes, it can be serviced but every deployment is highly unique. This is like a kit car, or my old project car. You get a bunch of parts that may (once they arrive) be assembled by a service team, and months later the result should work. It’s a kit and every kit is unique and special, and IT ends up spending much of their time figuring out how to keep this unique beast running.
VCE builds the solution in its factory first so it runs before it is delivered. VCE selects from a limited set of parts it is expert in so that it maintains expertise, not just in the parts, but in the solution itself, and IT gets a complete solution. If you’d accept it in a semi-trailer, you could likely get it so complete you’d only have to supply power and network connections to it and it’d be up and running, which is about as close to being handed a set of keys when you get a complete car as you could get.
It is like The Car Factory, but at scale, in that it can service the result world-wide not just in Florida (where The Car Factory is, unfortunately for me, located). We don’t see what makes VCE unique because we are used to getting IT solutions in kits, not as completed objects. So we look at VCE like a variant on the build-it-yourself segment as opposed to the only unit that actually does what everyone should do: Deliver a real solution, not a solution kit.
I’m left not wondering why VCE does this, but why doesn’t everyone?
Wrapping Up: Soon, All Will Follow VCE’s Lead
It is interesting to note that the PC market started in much the same way: You got what was basically a kit that you assembled into a solution. Products were defined by expansion slots that, increasingly, no one used. As this market matured, laptops, smartphones and tablets became complete devices that arrived complete and were vastly more reliable and far easier to get up and running. It is taking the raised floor side of high technology a lot longer to figure this out. Most deliver custom kits that have to be assembled and tested onsite and the end result is that, by the time it is in production, it may be mostly obsolete. Kind of like a kit car that takes a year or more to build. VCE delivers a complete solution, which is why it takes days to get it to work (and you could likely cut that to hours if VCE didn’t have to dissemble the product for delivery), and the result is also more reliable and serviceable as a result.
I expect that in a few years everyone will do this. It just amazes me that after decades in this market, today VCE is the only firm at enterprise scale doing this.
As a side note, I’ll bet there is a marketing/sales guy or executive in VCE who just realized I justified him buying an EMC exotic car from The Car Factory. I call shotgun first!
Rob Enderle is President and Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, a forward-looking emerging technology advisory firm. With over 30 years’ experience in emerging technologies, he has provided regional and global companies with guidance in how to better target customer needs; create new business opportunities; anticipate technology changes; select vendors and products; and present their products in the best possible light. Rob covers the technology industry broadly. Before founding the Enderle Group, Rob was the Senior Research Fellow for Forrester Research and the Giga Information Group, and held senior positions at IBM and ROLM. Follow Rob on Twitter @enderle, on Facebook and on Google+