Amazon is ‘old’ tech’s worst enemy

October 9, 2015, 1:43 PM UTC
Cloud System Gears and Success Plan
Cloud System Gears and Success Plan
Photograph by Getty Images

Amazon cloud execs can sometimes seem a tad sanctimonious when they talk about how their business goals completely align with the greater customer good, but one thing that Andy Jassy said Wednesday resonates, especially in light of reports later that day that Dell is considering a purchase of EMC in what would be a massive $50 billion deal.

“Most technology companies, particularly the old guard technology companies, have lost their will and their DNA to invent. They acquire,” said Jassy, who is senior vice president of Amazon (AMZN) Web Services at a press event on AWS Re:invent on Wednesday.

The reported Dell-EMC (EMC) deal, one that neither company has confirmed, epitomizes the sort of financial engineering that has inflamed older tech companies of late. Companies like EMC, IBM (IBM), and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) garner headlines more for their M&A activity (or litigation) than for their new products and services.

HP is busily cutting itself into two companies while IBM generates press releases about acquisitions and new Watson business units at a fearsome clip. And Dell, with Silver Lake Partners, spent the better part of 2013 taking itself private and is now apparently in hot pursuit of EMC.

Ah yes, EMC. Over the past decade under chief executive and chairman Joe Tucci, the storage giant has bought its way into cloud computing, collaboration, security, and virtualization and issued a ton of PowerPoints on the value of its EMC Federation of companies. The Wall Street Journal reported that a deal would probably combine EMC and Dell’s respective storage businesses and spin off VMware (VMW), which is just what activist investor Elliott Management has apparently been bugging EMC to do.

So maybe it’s just optics, but it sure seems that Amazon has been building new cloud services while these legacy players have been distracted by financial and legal moves that don’t bring new and better product to market faster. Of course all those other companies are burdened (blessed?) with legacy products that have become less relevant in an age of consolidating compute and storage power in public clouds running commodity hardware, so they have to figure out how to move into this new world while lugging all that baggage.

But then again, remember, AWS is becoming a legacy IT company too.

For more on Amazon Web Services, see the video.

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