Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview: Dell

Virtualisation Field Day 4 is happening in Austin, Texas from 14th-16th January and I’m very lucky to be invited as a delegate.

I’ve been previewing the companies attending, have a look at my introductory post: Virtualisation Field Day 4 Preview.

image The big daddy, Dell, headquartered in Austin is a 1st time Virtualisation Field Day presenter although has presented previously at Networking Field Day 7, Tech Field Day 9, Storage Field Day 1, and Tech Field Day 7.

Dell is the strappy direct selling IT upstart that became a big enterprise hardware and software vendor and is hugely interesting at the moment. First of all, it has just been through its 1st year of being a private company. No more public shareholders to pester it, it can make all its decisions in private with no financial disclosure. I’d love to find out how Dell has changed because of this. Has it become nimbler and agile and able to turn itself around or is it in fact hiding its hasty decline from public view? I’m pretty sure we’re not going to get entirely forthcoming answers to this but I’d seriously love to know how going private has changed Dell.

Dell has an interesting history as they’ve been on a large acquisition and partnership spree over the past few years to fill out their portfolio of hardware and software as they don’t have the long enterprise history of the likes of HP, IBM or EMC. In fact you may be surprised at the breadth of their product portfolio. They bought Exalogic and Compellent to build a storage division and have recently partnered with Nutanix as well as announcing their own EVO:RAIL product. Are they ensuring they can be a one-stop storage shop so their customers don’t have to go anywhere else ala EMC? Can they successfully explain and sell through the inevitable product overlap? Does the deal with Nutanix or VMware EVO:RAIL make them more money?

They have chosen to keep on the brand names of many acquired products so you may not in fact realise that Dell actually now owns many very well known IT brands such as Wyse, Quest, vRanger and Foglight,  Due to all these acquisitions they do have competing products and a lot of overlap which can be a strength and also a weakness. They can position the different brands at different markets and act more like a consumer goods company with targeted marketing. Unilever sells multiple detergents at different price points to different markets, can this be compared to Dell? However having a disparate and overlapping product portfolio makes it harder to sell more expensive bundles and cross sell to other products. It also makes it difficult to deliver a cohesive strategy for IT management and be seen as that “we can help you do everything” IT services company.

The elephant in the room as with every other large enterprise IT company is whether they can pivot successfully to take cloud market share with ever decreasing reliance on legacy hardware and IT infrastructure software revenue. Are they tacking this challenge as a private company correctly without public scrutiny, do they have an awesome trick up their sleeve they’re going to let us know about or are they burying the skeletons in the closet?

I not sure what Dell is presenting on at VFD4, there’s no way they can cover everything they do but they’ve hinted it’s to do with storage, Intel and the new FX architecture. This is a melding of rack mount servers and blades, they say its rack server simplicity with blade server modularity. Basically a 2U chassis in which you can mix and match compute, storage and networking to match any workload you need. Will this same building block be used for their EVO:RAIL and Nutanix offerings as well? Plenty to find out.

Gestalt IT is paying for travel, accommodation and things to eat to attend Virtualisation Field Day but aren’t paying a penny for me to write anything good or bad about anyone.

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