Storage giant EMC (NYSE: EMC) likes to think in threes.

This goes far beyond the company's three-letter name (an acronym for the names of its founders), the ancillary three-letter NYSE ticker, and the given name of current CEO Joe Tucci. EMC also likes to remind us of the "triple play" business strategy it is pursuing:

  1. Take market share from rivals NetApp (Nasdaq: NTAP), Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ), IBM (NYSE: IBM), and now Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL),
  2. "Reinvest meaningfully in our business," and
  3. Leverage the top two areas to grow profitability.

On top of all those triplets, Tucci sees his company at the three-way intersection of enterprise data, "big data," and trusted cloud computing. In case you haven't heard these terms before, enterprise data refers to the storage needs of large-scale corporations, big data is a system for organizing massive amounts of information, and trusted cloud computing is a way to run centralized services in the data center and access them securely through Web browsers, mobile applications, and other thin clients.

According to management, EMC is delivering on all of these tripartite fronts today. On the back of 19% stronger sales year over year, EMC saw GAAP earnings rise by 53% to $0.29 per share. I'm not entirely convinced that 19% sales growth would qualify as "taking market share," particularly not from rapid-growth phenom NetApp, but the rest of the declaration looks legit.

Mind you, at least two of those three roadways at the intersection were paved to a great extent by acquisitions. Without VMware (NYSE: VMW), EMC wouldn't be the cloud-computing player it is today; Greenplum completed the "big data" puzzle. After a rash of buyouts across the storage industry in the past two years, the pool of available small caps with proven or promising technology is drying up.

EMC generated $3.4 billion of free cash flow in 2010. Will the company pump some of that into more acquisitions, or is organic growth becoming the only way ahead? I think we're getting ever closer to the second option. Discuss EMC's growth options -- or lack thereof -- in the comments below.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. VMware is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. The Fool owns shares of EMC, International Business Machines, and Oracle. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.