Dell server, storage, PC sales grow despite component supply chain woes

Dell executives cite the company’s use of “alternative” component supply chains as server, storage and PC sales grow despite difficulties for most of the market sourcing parts

It’s all going astonishingly well for Dell. When IDC said PC sales were beginning to drop in April, Dell reported its sales had actually grown by 22%.

Despite component shortages that have led to suppliers not being able to fulfil market demands for datacentre equipment – servers, storage and PCs – Dell has seen its server sales grow by 16% and those of storage arrays by 9%. Those figures come from Dell’s quarterly results and are year-on-year numbers.

Globally, turnover for Dell in the past quarter – up to April – was $26.1bn, and that was a 16% increase on the same quarter the year before.

Dell’s Consumer Solutions Group – basically PCs – is the driving force of the brand, with a quarterly turnover of $15.6bn. Of that, PC sales to the enterprise represent $12bn and those of consumer PCs $3.6bn.

According to different analysts, the good performance of Dell’s enterprise PC offer is down to bundles comprised of hardware, a complete suite of software and the whole range of peripherals. According to IDC’s rankings, Dell is number three in this market (13.7% market share) after Lenovo (18.3%), and HPE (15.8%), but in front of Apple (7.2%) and Asus and Acer (5.5% each).

At the same time, Dell’s Infrastructure Solutions Group realised a turnover of $9.3bn. That’s divided between $4.2bn for storage services and $5bn for servers and network equipment.

The various analysts haven’t published recent figures to allow comparison between Dell’s sales and those of competitors in the datacentre. But IDC has noted that infrastructure trends in the datacentre are proceeding along three axes, namely: investments by service providers in the cloud; enterprise investment in in hybrid services; and investment in private datacentres.

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According to figures from 2021, cloud hosting providers are the ones putting most money into infrastructure – $73.9bn for the year, and an increase of 8.8% compared with 2020 – but largely by designing their own hardware services and so not frequenting the usual suppliers.

During the same period, enterprises invested $59.6bn in servers and storage arrays for their datacentres (4.2% up on 2020) and $51.4bn in hybrid services.

Such hybrid solutions correspond to the bundles sold by the longstanding infrastructure supplier, namely datacentre hardware and public cloud services, all sold in “cloud mode” and in monthly subscription format. In this space, Dell has concentrated its efforts with its Apex programme.

An alternative supply chain

“The fact is that demand today from enterprises for datacentre infrastructure is very strong, after two years of a pandemic in which customers have tightened their belts,” said Dell vice-chair and co-chief operating officer Jeff Clarke to an analyst conference call.

“In other words, we suffer like everyone else from component supply problems due to the closure of Chinese ports.

“So we have been forced to find alternatives to our usual supply chains. That’s why enterprise customers come to us. They know we can supply them as we have promised,” he added, without detailing just what those alternatives are.

According to Clarke, next quarter’s turnover should reach between $26.1bn and $27.1bn, which is about 10% more than last year. He predicted that the current fiscal year should attain a turnover of $101.2bn and a 6% increase on the previous year. 

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