Oracle OpenWorld: Dell talks evolving tech, tablets

Michael Dell delivers a keynote that is less about Dell and more about how the technology (that Dell offers) is having a real impact for businesses.

Dell CEO Michael Dell kicked off today's events at Oracle OpenWorld with a keynote that put things into perspective - and didn't come across as a Dell infomercial.

Sure, he used the stage to announce a second tablet PC - this time with a 7-inch screen - that will run Google's Android operating system but he offered no details about the device, including specs or a release date. Still, it marks the second tablet for the company, following the Streak, another Android device that the CEO said will be available in Best Buy stores later this year.

But Dell's primary use of the stage on Wednesday was not to talk up his own products. Instead, he offered some insight - and examples - about changes in the industry and why events like OpenWorld are important to it. Times are changing. Technology is evolving. Performance can be improved, money can be saved and customers can, in the end, be happier.

And that's not just Dell's customers, but rather the end-users, whether that's a company like Zynga - which has become an overnight success story with the rise of Farmville on Facebook - or a company like Federal Express, a legacy company that's managing billions of bits of data daily.

Unlike other keynotes this week, Dell's presentation didn't come across as self-serving and certainly didn't get bogged down with technical details that speak only to the ultra geeks.

By bringing customers to the stage, Dell was able to illustrate the significance of things like scalability, cloud computing, virtualization and mobile apps to a level that makes sense for anyone who might be confused by the constant changes being put in front of both execs and consumers.

Without the scalability of cloud computing, for example, Zynga would have had far more headaches as usage has spiked in the recent months. Likewise, without the connectivity of mobile devices into the network, Federal Express wouldn't be able to offer real-time updates on the status of packages the way it does.

How big of a deal is that for a company like FedEx? Consider that, every day, the company moves 8 million packages a day, sees more than 20 million visitors on its sites, processes more than 5 million tracking requests and gets around-the-clock updates via more than 100,000 handheld devices in the field.

For a company like FedEx, tracking inventory isn't as simple as counting boxes on a warehouse shelf. It's tracking millions of packages that are moving from one location to another across 200 countries. Dell referred to FedEx as an IT machine.

Sure, Michael Dell talked about Dell's business - the importance of evolving server architectures, the significance of virtualization and the value of services. But his message wasn't something like "Look how great we are at all of this."

Instead, Dell's message was that, as technology evolves and the demands and needs of businesses change, customers can rely on Dell to serve their needs.

On the keynote speech scorecard, Dell easily beat HP, which offered a dry infomercial-like presentation on opening night here.

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