Dell bets on its end-to-end datacentre infrastructure strategy

Michael Dell has outlined the company’s datacentre and cloud strategies

Michael Dell, the founder and chief executive of Dell, has outlined the company’s datacentre and cloud strategies which are dictated by four customer imperatives – transform, connect, inform and protect.

At its Solutions Summit in Brussels on 18 September, Dell said the company is steering its efforts to enable customers to deal with IT challenges around security, software-defined infrastructures, big data analytics and the internet of things (IoT).

The transform imperative is all about the vision of a future-ready, software-defined datacentre and about moving to the cloud, he said.

Dell pledged that the company can help customers build their next-generation datacentre with its wide range of industry partnerships and platform-agnostic strategies. 

“We have no legacy architecture to protect, so we are all about new ways of doing things – microprocessor-based, cloud-based infrastructures,” he said.

Supplier lock-in is a huge issue, particularly for customers looking to see the best return from their IT budget, and Dell wants to offer a flexible system for their needs, explained Dell enterprise vice-president Tony Parkinson.

“We have been in the server business for about 20 years and our newest, 13th-generation PowerEdge server family is inspired by customers’ needs,” said Dell. 

The r730-xd – the flagship product in the PowerEdge portfolio – features 36 microprocessor cores, 100TB capacity in a 2U platform, and has near-field communication (NFC) capabilities. 

“It has huge RAM capabilities and users can run Oracle, VMware, Hadoop – anything they want,” Dell explained.

New datacentres, new challenges

“Datacentres are changing quickly to converged infrastructure because of the enormous improvements in microprocessors.

“Virtualisation is running across the entire datacentre – so all layers of storage, network and servers are becoming virtualised. All elements in the datacentre are becoming applications running in virtual machines,” Dell said in his keynote address. 

“Everything is going to the cloud. We’re seeing this idea of the integrated appliance taking hold,” he added.

Dell emphasised how its datacentre products such as VRTX and PowerEdge, as well as its datacentre management strategies and the company’s acquisitions – including Quest Software – are helping businesses shape their IT plans.

The connect imperative is all about mobility and the company is investing in products to help enterprises provide the technologies and devices their users need to be productive. 

“We are continuing to invest and grow product lines in the connectivity space – take our Wyse acquisition for instance,” said Dell. “We absolutely believe in the PC business – we are consolidating and growing.”

He also emphasised that big data and IoT are beginning to change the IT landscape. 

The inform imperative involves enterprises storing important data and gaining insights to increase business competence, said Dell. 

Lastly, referring to the protect imperative, he said security is at the heart of Dell’s datacentre and cloud strategies.

“Security is a top concern for CIOs all over the world,” said Dell. “When we ask customers what is keeping them up at night, they say security. We see about 80 billion security events every day.” 

Dell is providing services to enable enterprises to secure data, not just in datacentres but also in cloud services such as Dropbox.

Dell’s revival as a private company

In 2013, Dell became a private company in a $24bn deal, with founder Michael Dell as a majority stakeholder. Significantly, Microsoft invested $2bn in Dell’s buyback bid.

Going private has helped us,” said Dell while speaking in Brussels. “It has enabled us to put our focus 100% on our customers. We have invested more in research, development, innovation and in channels in the past year.”

International Data Corporation (IDC) analyst Nick Sundby told Computer Weekly, “Dell’s ability to adapt to business changes quicker than its competitors and its attitude of listening to the customers are its biggest strengths.

“I speak to a lot of its enterprise customers and they are all happy,” he said.

Dell is heavily focused on the datacentre infrastructure, compute, network, storage and server markets. It has recently refreshed its datacentre platform services with features more tuned to the converged architecture, flash storage, managed services and so on.

Traditionally known as a PC manufacturer, Dell is proving to customers that it also offers a full enterprise product portfolio to create a fully virtualised environment, said experts.

By being an end-to-end supplier, we can give our customers what they need, when they need it

Tony Parkinson, Dell

The company’s business is 85% government and enterprises, meaning the remaining 15% is consumer business – such as PCs.

It is offering a flexible, service-centered IT model, matching technology to support business processes.

For example, the British visual effects company Framestore has deployed end-to-end Dell services to support big-budget projects at its Montreal site. The company was able to construct an IT infrastructure, from scratch, in less than 12 months – allowing it to undertake significant upcoming projects.

“Just over 12 months ago, we began planning our expansion into Montreal and quickly realised the challenge of building the site infrastructure after it had opened for business,” said Steve MacPherson, CTO of Framestore. 

“Our entire infrastructure is based on Dell – racks, cooling, storage and rendering – all this combined to make the planning process straightforward, while the execution and delivery were both efficient and cost-effective," he added.

Another customer, hotel.de in Germany, has virtualised 100% of its datacentre with Dell. The deployment allowed the customer to significantly reduce energy costs, respond quickly to changes and better support ongoing growth. 

“With the introduction of Dell systems, we were able to achieve the greatest possible degree of automation in IT administration, simplifying our operations immensely while reducing energy costs,” said Michael Kalb, IT director at hotel.de. 

“We’re seeing an increasing trend with companies looking to source from one supplier when they update their IT architectures,” said Dell's Parkinson. “By being an end-to-end supplier, we can give our customers what they need, when they need it."

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