Harnessing elegance for cost-effective mid-market analytics
In November 2010, EMC purchased Isilon for $2.25 billion. Since then, EMC has integrated the platform into its broader big data solution portfolio to offer customers and partners an end-to-end integrated solution. We discuss analytics, design and channel partner profits with Dan Kieran (DK), General Manager for Isilon for Asia Pacific and Japan.
CCF: Tell us a bit more about the technology – what market was Isilon created to serve?
DK: Isilon was founded in 2001. It designed and developed clustered storage systems specifically to address storing, managing and accessing digital content and other unstructured data. Powered by the OneFS operating system, Isilon nodes are clustered to create a high-performing, single pool of storage. As big data volumes increase, customers can add capacity in minutes, while also gaining linear performance. With early customers in traditionally data-intensive industries, such as media and entertainment, and oil and gas, Isilon has been addressing big data requirements for the past 12 years. We are now selling the seventh generation of this technology, with loads of experience baked into the technology.
CCF: Why did EMC buy Isilon?
DK: To achieve big data scale, organizations need an automated, scale-out storage platform that allows them to add capacity with minimal additional operational cost and achieve scalability, performance and throughput. EMC could see the mass market for big data coming and we have been looking at the full breadth of use case market segments. Isilon was a good fit for the mid-market, where we see potentially explosive growth. Since the acquisition, we have built in a few more features that will have broader appeal outside the specific vertical industries that were originally served. So we have a product that grew up with deep business relevance, now with broader market appeal.
CCF: Your Isilon portfolio appears to address a wide spectrum of needs. What types of partners have you typically engaged?
DK: There are fundamentally two partner types that have been attracted to our portfolio: generic infrastructure solutions providers and vertical-specific ones. Generic infrastructure solution providers see customer demand to aggregate large data sets and consolidate applications onto a single storage pool for control of big data assets. For vertical-specific partners that are more focused on content-driven applications, Isilon’s ability to deliver performance, efficiency, scalability and ease of use is critical. Their focus is on the message in the data, and removing complexity from the data management platform is a big help. Between these two sets of partners, we are indeed addressing diverse customer requirements.
CCF: What impact has this technology had on your partners’ addressable market?
DK: We have seen three interesting trends. Firstly, partners start responding to needs outside their normal buying contacts. Conversations with line-of-business managers, analysts and data custodians open up new budgets within their existing customer bases. Secondly, they are getting involved earlier in the solution discussion. Target outcomes are more assured when analytics providers are in the frame from the beginning. We hear from our partners that they are invited to the party earlier than they used to be. And finally, our generalists are finding opportunities to partner with our vertical specialists (some of whom are ISVs), and by joining forces, they are able to create stronger momentum in the market.
CCF: You manage a regional business that must respond to huge variations in market maturity. How are you flexing targets?
DK: We used to think country-based variations were the most reliable trends to inform our investment decisions. However, we now see a more nuanced set of variations. Within emerging countries we have partners who serve customers with mature data practices, and vice versa. We find it pays to look at workload patterns and track partners who map use cases and intensity rather than traditional volume-based reviews. Our message to the partner community is to consider global benchmarks and not be bound by country-specific constraints.