Waiting on Standards

By eweek  |  Posted 2003-12-16 Print this article Print

It seems that Dell is putting itself into a position of having to wait for new standards before coming out with new servers. For example, in the past when talking with Dell about blade servers, while HP and IBM are expanding their line of blade servers, Dell has stayed somewhat pat with the [PowerEdge] 1655MC. Is Dell falling behind the development of its hardware while waiting for these new standards in software? It is an important question. We are not going to allow the slowness of definition of software standards to stop us from continuing to innovate on the hardware and the software side. It is important to repeat one of the ideas I talked about earlier, which is, in the absence of a standard, like IPMI or something from the Distributed Management Task Force or whomever, we are going to make our development investments to ensure that our hardware solutions actually integrate with the ISV-based models. Thats why we actually have developed the OpenManage tool kits that allow those things to plug in.
The choice for us in standards is that a customer can choose from multiple vendors or from a single vendor to manage multiple vendors with the software or hardware to be able to go off and do that. We believe on the modular side that customer adoption has been slowed not because of the software management interface but as much because of standardization of some of the hardware pieces.
On the management side, well provide those interfaces so that a customer can be able to manage us and our solutions effectively while those standards are developed and complied by our competitors as well as us. So we dont think they get in the way of driving this approach. Ill be honest with you, we dont think weve been as effective in the past as we could have been in driving that because we also hoped to try and develop many of our own capabilities and we recognize that that in one way it is slowing down adoption of new capabilities in the customer base. But weve refocused some of our activities in modular product development to ensure that we can do a better job of that going forward. Where is the push for standardization going to be coming from the most, vendors or standardization committees? I think youre going to see both of those actually occurring in the marketplace. Our value in a lot of this is really understanding what the customers here care about, being practical and pragmatic about how we approach it, [and] being very strong and vociferous in the marketplace about why customers see that as important. If you look at a lot of things that have been talked about over the last year in this industry, that started from a proprietary "well deliver to you a completely integrated vertical stack"—that sounds a little like the mainframe days of 25 years ago—to one of, "We will provide tools that integrate well and well do a better job of integrating it." Dell fully believes that we can do a better competitive job of integration. … We have to drive the standardization efforts. We have substantially increased our efforts inside the company and outside working with many of the standards committees to actually start driving a lot more of that. One thing that we recognized internally is we have been a participant in many of those committees for a long time, but have not taken as strong a leadership in bringing that voice of the customer into the decisions that get made there, so weve been doing that a lot more over the last couple of quarters within the DMTF and others, and were actually starting to see traction in those committees, [theyre] starting to actually write specifications that are more customer valuable and customer deployable. Standards ought to be able to help customers in the medium term, not the long, long term, so were actually beginning to see more cooperation between the industry giants, the industry leaders, in developing those core standards as we move forward over the coming quarters and years. Honestly, that will take years for us to actually get to the point of complete adoption across the industry, which is why weve also been practical in ensuring that our development activities marry to that long-term plan. The long-term plan is that as industry standards get rolled into operating systems and ISVs, that our development activities should be built along that plan. Next page: Why Dell became more active in standards.


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