As IT bluebloods like Cisco, EMC, Dell, HP and Oracle have morphed from product segment leaders into full stack IT providers it’s turned former allies into adversaries. Companies that once saw collaborative opportunities by combining strengths in different product silos to deliver complete IT packages have gradually expanded into each other’s turf, each trying to be the one-stop IT shop. Although colliding worlds among IT vendors has turned collaboration into competition, the big firms still have much in common. Indeed, Cisco and EMC, former allies now frenemies, face a common threat from commodity hardware and open source software. Juxtaposing recent comments by their respective executives makes clear they are responding to comparable threats with similar strategies. Firms that grew by selling products with demonstrably superior performance now stress broad portfolios they’ve stitched into end-to-end technology platforms. According to Cisco’s legendary CEO John Chambers customers want “outcomes.”
As I explain in the full column, both companies are taking an Apple-like approach to enterprise IT by emphasizing higher-margin packaged “solutions” of pre-integrated hardware and software bundles that just work that appeals to beleaguered IT departments that don’t have the time or expertise to learn, test and integrate white-box hardware and open source software.