Taking a page from IBM’s book, Dell is building a platform-agnostic services business, says Dell Director of SMB Business Tony Parkinson, but where IBM focuses on large enterprises, Dell is focusing on SMBs.
“Really the IT guy at a small business has one of the hardest jobs in the IT industry,” he said on a SiliconAngle.tv webcast from the Dell Storage Forum. “He has to manage everything. You want to talk to the apps guy, that’s him. Desktop support, that’s him. Networking, that’s him. Storage management, it’s the same guy.
“And at the same time, management expects him to keep up with all the new technologies.” So if management wants IT to support a growing heterogeneous set of portable devices including various smart phones, iPads, and now Android tablets as well, he has to figure that out. And if they want to move to the cloud, then he has to do that as well.
“That’s where Dell can help,” Parkinson said. Through a combination of acquisitions – Perot Systems being the largest and most visible – and internal hiring, it has built a services portfolio focused on the needs of its SMB clients.
Security, for instance, is a major issue for SMBs as well as large enterprises. Dell’s recent purchase of StorageWorks has given it a full security assessment capability based on a physical or virtual device that can test various aspects of a company’s security from its firewalls to its DR. Then Dell has the tools to help the company upgrade its security to the level it needs.
The cloud is a major concern among Dell’s customers. Parkinson says that when a customer comes to Dell asking how to move to the cloud, or perhaps build a private cloud internally, they start by helping the customer virtualize his existing environment. In keeping with its device agnostic approach, it will work with whatever hypervisor the customer prefers, although many of its projects are based on VMware. Similarly, when a customer comes to Dell asking for help supporting the tablets that senior management is bringing into the office, Dell’s approach is to build support for everything, not to try to sell the company on Dell tablets and smartphones. And in storage while it now owns Compellent, it will support any storage the customer has in a virtualization project and still sells EMC to customers who want that.
It is this technology agnostic approach that attracts customers, Parkinson says. They know that the advice they receive will be trustworthy and not designed to sell Dell hardware. “Our customers see us as their trusted advisor.”