Dell recently rolled out a number of enterprise offerings with a focus on efficiency, which reflects not only reflects a message to its customers but also how Dell sees itself in the enterprise market. No longer just a hardware IT infrastructure provider, Dell is angling to be seen as a solutions provider. Will an acquisition and a move into the smartphone market be a part of that growth, and enough to help Dell stand tall against an IBM-Sun Microsystems merger?
is looking to put its focus
on what the company calls "the efficient
During a March 25 press conference-streamed live around world via Webcast
announced fourteen new enterprise products
that put the focus on what Steve
Schuckenbrock, vice president of enterprise products, called "three
critical resource areas": people, time and money.
New blades, servers and workstations were announced, as well as new
enterprise-class storage hardware, software and services optimized for
virtualized environments. A repeated theme was doing more with less.
Schuckenbrock said Dell's focus on more "purposeful design"
started approximately three years ago, when "Michael Dell took the
reins." At Dell, Schuckenbrock said, "our designs are now about
solving customer problems, versus just adopting the latest technology."
(Lest anyone think the
svelte new Dell Adamo laptop
is just about putting out the latest
technology, he continued: "Adamo was purposefully built to make a
statement about design, and to serve a specific clientele with its particular
Service was also a big focus, with the introduction of Dell ProSupport,
offering custom services based on a customer's environment and needs; Dell
ProManage, in which Dell will ship, deploy and manage a server for a customer,
even replacing it once it comes to the end of its life cycle; and Dell
ProConsult, a consulting service for addressing customer pain points.
The implied and spoken point being: Dell
used to be thought of as a hardware
provider, but now it's more of a complete solutions provider.
"Dell has been mostly hardware-it always has had some services and
software, though subordinate to hardware," said Roger Kay, an analyst with
Endpoint Technologies Associates. "But to better compete in the enterprise
space, Dell does have to have a more rounded-out offering."
Separately, speaking in Beijing
on March 26, CEO Michael Dell
told the press:
"We are focused on data centers, services, software, servers and storage. Those
are likely areas for Dell to use its capital for nonorganic growth ... If you look
at the last few years at the acquisitions we have made, it really has been focused
in those areas."
Systems recently announced it is entering the server space,
competition for Dell, and computer rival IBM
is rumored to be in talks to purchase Sun Microsystems,
considerably strengthen it.
To remain a strong competitor, is an acquisition imminent for Dell?
"There are a lot of rumors about that," Kay said. "Dell still
has a pretty good cash position, and certainly could make a purchase. But there are not a lot of great companies floating around-look how much EDS cost
That was really expensive."
Before the EDS acquisition, though, Kay
points out, EDS had been a partner of
Dell's, which left Dell with a hole on the IT services side. Kay suggests a
company similar to ACS-a Massachusetts
service and support company-could be a fit.
"I'm sure Dell is looking over acquisitions, and that that's a continuous
activity for them," Kay said. "Though it's pretty reasonable to think
Dell might be accelerating its interest in this area."
On March 24, Michael
Dell conceded that the company was exploring "smaller-screen device,"
a thing many already suspected. In a research note on March 20, Kaufman
Brothers analyst Shaw Wu wrote that Dell had already approached carriers with a
smartphone design, which was turned down for its lack of differentiation in the
Wu, too, said he imagined this put Dell in a position of likely planning to
acquire some help. "We are being told that Dell is going back to the
drawing board in designing the cell phone with more differentiation," Wu
wrote in the research note. "This will likely involve vertical integration
of some sort including software and/or services."