IT Infrastructure: Dell's Long and Winding Road From PC Maker to IT Services Provider
January 2007: Michael Dell Returns as CEO
It's probably no coincidence that Dell's reboot began when company founder Michael Dell returned as CEO from his chairman position in January 2004, replacing his hand-picked successor, Kevin Rollins. During Rollins' three-year tenure, the company remained a world leader in selling PCs but its market share started slipping; plus, the company was distracted by an SEC investigation into Dell's accounting and financial practices.
Michael Dell famously started PCs Unlimited, which eventually became Dell Computer Co., in his University of Texas dorm room in 1984. Within eight years, with his design-it-yourself desktop PCs, Dell liberated personal computing in its own image, providing a cost-effective alternative to IBM PCs and Apple Macintoshes. Soon thereafter, Dell started offering portable PCs (laptops) and x86-type rack servers for data centers. Later, it began reselling and servicing EMC's lower-end storage arrays to midsize businesses. Then, about nine years ago, Dell realized that computer hardware was being commoditized, wasn't going to be the long-term answer for his company and it had to move into other markets. Dell had to morph fast because others were already on their way to the same destination: software and services. On April 2, Dell added to its portfolio by acquiring Wyse Technology, which gives the Round Rock, Texas, company additional ammo in the world of cloud computing and virtualization. With this type of growth, Dell is on par with other large, all-purpose IT companies, including IBM and HP. How Dell made that journey is an interesting story, to say the least. eWEEK looks back to identify some of the key milestones in the journey from PC maker to full-service IT provider.