I had a chance to see Michael Dell – in flesh – for the first time yesterday in Brussels at the Dell Solutions Summit. He delivered a great keynote on Dell’s datacentre strategy, its investment plans and also spoke about all the hot IT topics – software-defined infrastructures, internet of things, security and data protection.
Michael sounded optimistic about Dell’s place in the future IT but what was new was how open Dell has become as a company and its firm commitment to all things that determine the new age IT – software defined, cloud, security, mobile, big data, next-gen storage and IoT.
For one, Michael was candid with the numbers. He said:
- The total IT market is worth $3 trillion and we have a 2% share of it. Only 10 companies have 1% or more share of that $3 trillion market.
- Dell’s business comprises 85% government and enterprise IT and just 15% is end-user focused.
This kind of number-feeding the press and analysts is new at Dell, which, until now, like rest of the service providers in the industry kept business numbers close to its chest.
But that was not all, Michael didn’t hold back from saying a few things that raised a few eyebrows:
- “I wish we hadn’t made some of the acquisitions we did.”
- “As ARM moves to 64-bit architecture, it becomes more interesting,” Michael said. He said the company is open to working with its longstanding partner Intel’s rival for mainstream datacentre products if that’s where the market moved.
- He also said, Dell is a big believer of the software-defined future. “We ourselves are moving our storage IT into a software defined environment.”
- And to those that wrote off the PC industry, Michael said: “We absolutely believe in the PC business, we are consolidating/growing”.
Michael’s optimism and confidence in the company’s future is a far cry from last year when the company’s ailing business strategy forced it to get itself off the public eye.
“Going private has helped us,” he said 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.”
Dell also seems to be striking a right chord with its customers, channel and analysts as those I spoke to said they like the company a lot and are pleased with how quickly it adapts and listens to its users.
Dell Research will be focused on five areas – software defined IT, next generation storage (NVM, Flash), next gen cooling, big data/analytics, IoT. Analysts say that’s a good bet.
“Dell’s foray into research clearly designed to establish it as an IT innovator as well as a scale/efficiency player,” says Simon Robinson from 451 Research group on Twitter.
Product-wise too it is making progress. Dell has been more creative than its competitors in designing its new servers on the latest Xeon chip. Its 13th-generation PowerEdge servers have capabilities such as NFC for server inventory management, new Flash capabilities, and has more front sockets.
Dell is also being innovative in its enterprise cloud strategies. It is providing the reference architectures, proof of concepts and server technologies to its system integrators to do the cloud implementation for customers. Having catered to the likes of AWS in the past, Dell has used that cloud experience to build reference architectures but gets the channel to implement it.
“We see private cloud as the future of cloud computing,” Michael said. According to him, enterprises in Europe prefer “local” clouds for data sovereignty and privacy issues, so it is supporting local system integrators with local datacentres to build cloud for the customers.
Michael and his company are certainly making the right noises and are investing in the right technologies. But will it increase their ranking in the datacentre (which I see as fourth after Cisco, HP and IBM – in that order), only time will tell.
Also, is it symbolic that Dell held its Solutions Summit party at the world-famous Comic Strip Museum in Brussels – the home of Tintin, Captain Haddock, the Smurfs and Asterix? Don’t know, but I sure did have fun!