Michael Dell on Modernizing the Portfolio, Mobile Devices and Services

We’re at Dell World this week with one overarching question in mind: what’s Dell’s solution for the emerging world of converged infrastructure and big data?  CEO Michael Dell and his team set out to address this question today, announcing investment initiatives in Enterprise Solutions and Services.

Four years and $10 billion later, Dell’s stitching together its end-to-end solutions to better support the evolving needs of its customers.  In fact, “evolving” is a word I’ve heard a few times since Dell World kicked off today, sitting in on a panel with Dell and his revamped leadership team.  The panel represents the key areas Dell is focusing on for the future, spanning services, security, end-user devices (PC and mobile), software and storage.  Each executive had their turn to present the case for integrated business solutions, all the while touting the “solid” position Dell has in the current global market.

Stitching it all together in the name of modernity

Dell kicks off the conversation with an overview of his company’s goals for serving customers, looking to “evolve from products to solutions.”  Dell had a rapid rise doing one thing customers could understand, and they’ve since broadened their portfolio, as their rivals have done, from HP to EMC.  Building a portfolio from a series of ingredients to a comprehensive solution is tough work in today’s demanding marketplace, where IT needs more storage and software smarts, executives need more data analysis, and end-users not only need devices to work anytime, anywhere, but secure access to company networks and data.

During the panel our founding editor John Furrier asks Dell what his view of “modern” is in this evolving space.  “We’ve seen tremendious interest…but it’s all about how we go to the old world to this virtualized infrastructure,” Dell replies.  “That requires lots of things our team here represents.”

4 Pilars for Dell Services

Delivery will be key to Dell’s strategy moving forward, ensuring the execution of their increasingly comprehensive suite of solutions for their customers.  In fact, deployment is the first of four key pilars for Dell Services Suresh Vaswani, President of Dell Services, outlines during the panel.  He wants to solve customers’ problems before they even know they’re facing a problem.

Integration for IT infrastructure and the cloud is the second pilar, managing new technology and making it work with customers’ legacy platforms.  Essentially, taking customers to the future.

Applications are up next, representing an important aspect of this future Vaswani speaks of.  This third pilar for Dell Services is disruptive, catalyzing Dell’s strategy for application modernization.

The fourth pilar is security, which is an increasingly important focus for Dell as it looks to offer management services for enterprise IT.  “If you really look at it, we’re a full services provider,” Vaswani says.  “With our Services technology we play a strong role in making Dell’s vision happen.”

Security: A big deal for BYOD & Big Data

Security is a growing focus for BYOD and data analysis alike, where firewalls and end-user access are changing the way businesses operate.  “BYOD is a fact of life,” says John Swainson, President of Software at Dell.  “We need to give clients a way to secure access to company data, on our servers or someone else’s.”

Swainson goes on to discuss the need for a democratization of data, recognizing the fact that the internet of things is delivering enormous amounts of data that can be used in business decisions.  Circumventing a company’s need to bring in more personell, such as data scientists to manage this explosion of data, democratization is a significant process Dell is pushing to offer its comprehensive portfolio cost-consciously.

Dell still bullish on PCs

On the flip side of the BYOD trend is the rise of mobile, where tablets have breached the workplace, arming workers with anytime, anywhere access and workstations.  Dell, as you may recall, has struggled to make headway in the mobile space with a failed tablet offering early in the Android game.  Dell’s PC business has fallen drastically in the past 12 months as consumers shift away from laptops to tablets.  But they’re still pushing their PC business, anticipating a revolution in workstations instead of a complete departure from PCs.

“I’m still bullish on PCs,” says Vice Chairman and President, Global Operations and End User Computing Solutions.  “I can’t predict what happens next year.”

“Windows 8, though, is a great opportunity to use the PC in an entirely new way, whether it’s virtualization, streaming, the cloud and the classic way PCs are run.  In terms of our ability to provide solutions around security and manageability, there’s never been a bigger need…I’m excited.”

Indeed, Windows 8 has set in motion a new attitude towards mobile in the workplace, even if it hasn’t proven to be the blowout product Microsoft marketed.  Dell and HP in particular are hinging their hopes on Windows 8, readying new tablet devices and solutions that hopefully revitalize the market.  HP’s already released a tablet/PC hybrid that addresses market needs, and we expect to see something similar from Dell in the future.