Is Dell becoming the new HP?

Summary:So it's official: Dell will no longer resell EMC equipment. This comes as little surprise, as any watcher of Dell's acquisitions will agree.

So it's official: Dell will no longer resell EMC equipment. This comes as little surprise, as any watcher of Dell's acquisitions will agree.

For ten years, it's been reselling EMC gear but it must have been painful looking at the balance sheets year after year, watching big numbers going into rival EMC's bank accounts.

But no more. Here's an acquisition shortlist: in recent years Dell has bought EqualLogic (iSCSI storage), Exanet (clustered storage), Ocarina (data compression) and Compellent (tiering and storage area networking). As a result, the company's now got pretty much the whole storage stack.

And with object storage supplied by Caringo together with its own hardware -- how long will it be, I wonder, before Dell acquires Caringo? -- the company that started with a young lad assembling and selling PCs from his front room has grown up big time.

Once criticised for being derivative and riding on the coattails of the research of others, Dell is closer than ever to being able to position itself in the same bracket as HP and IBM. It has datacentre networking too, as it bought Force10 Networks in July this year. It even has a consultancy arm, following its acquisition of Perot Systems for almost $4 billion in 2009.

However, it faces the problem associated with all acquisition strategies: the integration of all these technologies under a single management umbrella. It needs to adopt a common approach that provides customers with a reason to trust Dell with all their data. IT admins need to feel that the various storage technologies work as a unit, rather than as a random selection of products. CIOs need to see common pricing structures, and sales people need to talk knowledgeably about a product portfolio that is now both deep and wide.

Above all, Dell needs to build an internal mechanism that provides a common approach to acquisitions to ensure that the brains as well as the technologies stay with the company.

If Dell manages all that, it stands a chance of competing on a level footing with its entrenched rivals.

But what about right now: would you trust Dell with all your IT needs?

Topics: Networking

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Editor, journalist, analyst, presenter and blogger. As well as blogging and writing news & features here on ZDNet, I work as a cloud analyst with STL Partners, and write for a number of other news and feature sites. I also provide research and analysis services, video and audio production, white papers, event photography, voiceo... Full Bio

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