When Paul Maritz and the team finally unveiled Pivotal last week, like Doc Emmett Brown uncovering the DeLorean, not only did they reveal EMC’s new escape vehicle from the inertia of past success, but also a brilliantly droll marketing tag line to go with it.
The idea of EMC and VMware’s “consumer grade” spinout to serve enterprises – delivered with a knowing wink – comes with a delightful and complex irony, but behind the humour is a much more serious lesson for anyone still with their head in the sand.
Pivotal represents a refreshingly positive and constructive response to being at the sharp end of disruption. It shows a company taking a careful and dispassionate look at its assets, how its value chain and those of its customers are changing, and then understanding where it should be next in order to remain relevant.
The notion on which Pivotal is founded is more than a clever joke; it turns the entire semantics of enterprise tech marketing on its head. It paints a picture showing where new business value is now being created, how these applications are being built and where they are being deployed. All this should prompt some interesting questions amidst the hubris of old school IT.
For example, perhaps it’s time to take a fresh look at the competitive landscape. Are those hyperscale brethren Google, Amazon and Facebook sworn enemies to be renounced at all costs or actually pioneers to be understood and emulated? Before jumping to conclusions on how to play these games, do we actually understand the basis of competition in this new world of cloud ecosystems? Is it best to respond with a knee jerk flurry of FUD, or by adopting the same philosophies, co-opting the winning ecosystems, and building on these to create new value?
The world of has a habit of changing around us and often the changes only make sense once it’s too late. Commoditsation and democratisation of technology roll on, familiar value chains evolve, trusted business models get unpicked and the once essential quickly becomes irrelevant. Pivotal should be a wake up call to everyone trying to push water uphill in the infrastructure product business: the future is here now and it demands an appropriate response.