IT Infrastructure: Dell's Long and Winding Road From PC Maker to IT Services Provider

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2012-04-03 Print this article Print
January 2007: Michael Dell Returns as CEO

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.
Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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