Contrasting Dell, EMC, HP, IBM and Oracle - The Differences Are Telling

Rob Enderle

Sometimes it is interesting to look across vendors to see how each is differentiating itself outside of products and to see how they are defining themselves as companies. While these companies increasingly compete with each other, their differentiating weapons of choice are very different and this may better align the firm with your company's interests.


Dell, HP, IBM and Oracle are all either total solutions vendors or will soon be. EMC is addressing the market largely through unique partnerships and I'll likely spend a bit more time on that because it is really the only company in this class that is optimizing on what was once thought to be the Microsoft specialization model that currently is in decline, but resulted in Microsoft passing IBM as the most powerful tech company in the 1990s.


Let's get to it.




Dell's current strategy is to focus on the midmarket, which has been an area where solutions vendors have traditionally had a very hard time focusing because it is very different than the enterprise market that generally consumes them. The key skill it has developed to grow into a solutions vendor is an approach to acquisitions that improved on IBM's market-leading process.


Dell focuses like a laser on identifying and protecting the key value of the companies it acquires, while competitors tend to focus on making the acquired company assimilate into the parent and appear homogenous. This difference is why Dell's acquisitions have been successful and why better than 80 percent of acquisitions by others fail. Finally, it is the most visibly aggressive in promoting women in technology, which is ironic given two of its competitors are led by women.




EMC leads on both customer focus and partnerships. It is the only vendor that is using a combination of analytics and big data to instrument both customers and partners. This last is critical because its approach to a total solution is through partners. Even its midmarket approach is unique in that it designs products specifically for the midmarket distributor so it can better focus on the related customer, both acknowledging and addressing what has been a major weakness in its class.


VCE, the combination of Cisco, EMC, VMware and Intel (with secondary partners like BMC), is the only virtual corporation in existence that is designed to provide a best-of-breed solution wrapped in a way that allows it to compete with a total solution vendor. Currently growing at triple digits and approaching $1 billion in revenue, this partnership has been massively successful and suggests that the model that created Microsoft still has a significant amount of power left in it.




HP is defining itself as the leader in green technology and is tied to a high emphasis on broad cloud integrated solutions; it is so aggressive here it has created a data center model that will partially run off the decomposition of waste. Currently, the company is struggling with image and appears to be the drama capital of the technology world, which significantly dampens most of its efforts and is reminiscent of the kinds of mistakes that can occur in a failed political campaign, but it actually has a strong story.


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