Why Dell Wants You to Think Differently About Its Mission

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2012-02-28 Print this article Print

Analysis: At an impressive-looking spring 2012 data center event, Dell was more concerned with getting the message out that it's now an end-to-end solution provider than actually introducing new and/or improved products.

SAN FRANCISCO€”Michael Dell came to town Feb. 27, and, as an IT man with a fair amount of gravitas, he commands attention€”no matter what his message might be.

At Dell's impressive spring data center press conference here at the marble-floored Julia Morgan Ballroom in the Financial District, the Austin, Texas-based company introduced a few new whiz-bang pieces of data center equipment. But its deeper purpose was to corral key media members and analysts in the same room and remind them of the main corporate message, which is this:

When you think of Dell, you must think of it now as a full-service, end-to-end IT products and services provider.

Oh yes, Dell continues to make notebook and desktop PCs, and it relishes being No. 1 in the world in those businesses. But it also knows quite well that the days of PCs owning the consumer and enterprise end-user markets are numbered.

Dell hasn't been successful at getting its first tablet PCs and smartphones on the sales charts. That may indeed still happen at some point, but right now the company is concentrating on an area it knows a lot more about: the data center. Dell is well into the 12th generation of its bread-and-butter PowerEdge server, which has spanned more than 20 years of evolution.

With Dell morphing more into a full-fledged data center equipment, software and cloud services company with each passing day, Michael Dell (pictured) and his top lieutenants were in San Francisco to explain to how the company will continue to evolve in the brave new post-PC world.

It's a Hybrid World

"Our customers are telling us that their businesses are changing, that they need new and faster ways to process, analyze and secure their data€”whether it's on premises or in a public cloud, a private cloud or a hybrid cloud," Dell said. "This is becoming a hybrid world, and Dell is transforming to stay ahead of this.

"We've been on a mission to transform our business, and it's absolutely working," Dell said.

Of course, anybody who's read eWEEK for the last few years is already quite aware of the transformation Dell has undergone since Michael Dell returned in 2007 to run the business as CEO after taking a few years off from the daily grind. In the last two years alone, Dell has acquired 12 companies€”including one on Feb. 24: application backup provider AppAssure.

In those two years, Dell has doubled the size of its enterprise, services and data center divisions, and those now€”led by the storage units€”represent about half the company's net income. In fact, Dell told eWEEK that 93 percent of the company's storage income is now coming from inside Dell itself. For years, Dell resold EMC storage arrays, but it cut off that arrangement last year€”since the two companies are now direct competitors.

Key data center-related additions include Compellent (multiprotocol auto-tiered enterprise storage, 2011), RNA Networks (memory virtualization, 2011), Force10 (data center networking, 2011), Ocarina Networks (deduplication and compression, 2010) and Scalent (virtualization management software, 2010).

The products of all of these companies can be used in cloud systems. These are clear indicators of Dell's corporate strategy.

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 Salesforce.com 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 DevX.com 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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