Dell World 2014 introduced me to a whole new Dell

From the opening Keynote address to the closing of the show, Dell is different-in a good way. It's a brave new Dell and you should find out why.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor

If you'd asked me five years ago what I thought of Dell, I'd have given you a much different answer than I would today. And, no, I didn't dislike Dell five years ago, but the difference isn't me, it's Dell. The company. The people. The products. The atmosphere. Dell has changed. Dell has evolved. Dell has acquired. Dell has overcome. Dell has become a major force in the industry again. It's both refreshing and a little scary. Refreshing to see that a company can reboot itself as a major contender in the competitive world of enterprise computing. Scary that it has done so by hiring instead of having massive layoffs, investing rather than divesting, and buying in instead of selling off. 

Dell isn't scary for me. Don't be silly. It's scary for its competitors. And its list of competitors grows daily as it acquires new businesses such as Statsoft and SonicWall.

Scary because I can feel Dell coiling up, readying itself for the strike at its competition. Michael Dell is a smart man and he hasn't played his cards yet. But I can tell from the grin on his face that he has something up his sleeve. I'm not as naive as many other journalists and industry watchers who think that Dell is done creating and recreating itself. It isn't.

The big announcements are yet to come.

Here's what I think from what I saw at Dell World 2014. Predictions, if you will, but I rather think of them as premonitions for 2015-2016. Only time will tell if any are accurate, but it doesn't take a sackcloth-wearing sage to smell the coffee on some of these.

Dell will:

  • Continue to acquire companies that are strategic to its new vision, including management software in the MDM, MAM, and MCM realms.
  • Go headlong into the Internet of Things arena with Statistica and new hardware devices. 
  • Begin fierce competition with its new server hardware.
  • Likely acquire a storage company.
  • Acquire or develop its own virtualization technology.
  • Develop or acquire its own Linux distribution.
  • Begin its own cloud services for IoT, enterprises, and consumers.
  • Become your data center management company.
  • Launch its own "soup to nuts" B2B consulting arm.
  • Create its own "elastic compute" service where you can buy workloads by subscription.
  • Partner with a space exploration company.

I know some of these are already "works in progress" and some seem a bit far-fetched. I'm sure you're wondering what I mean by 'partnering with a space exploration company' so I'll tell you. Think about what Dell brings to the table for such endeavors: hardware, analytics, personal computing devices, IoT, and rocket (data) scientists. It's a match made in the heavens.

The B2B consulting arm would go something like this: You have a startup business and you contact Dell to setup your technology. They provide you with a "soup to nuts" turnkey business solution by subscription so that you pay as you go with them. Or better yet, Dell partially invests in your company by swapping computing solutions for a piece of the action (a percentage of profits or a stake in your company). Sounds promising doesn't it?

What would be the advantage of having your own Linux distro? A Dell-optimized, branded, and supported distribution, like Oracle's, would set its solution apart as part of the whole 'turnkey' concept. Dell has already embraced OpenStack and other open standards. Why not their own Linux?

Dell's virtualization technology would integrate with their hardware. The problem most virtualization vendors have is that they have to provide drivers for every possible bit of hardware out there. Not so with Dell. It has its own hardware and could optimize the hypervisor and the hardware for each other. A fully integrated system. No other virtualization or hardware vendor really has that outside of the IBM mainframe.

The Internet of Things business propelled by Statistica and Dell's own hardware will make it an unstoppable force in the server market and in the IoT market. Imagine hardware and software already optimized and configured for an IoT solution that you don't even have to purchase outright or house in your own data center.

Now back to Dell World 2014. No one told me these things or even alluded to them. Much to the contrary, since I'm not even sure I spoke to anyone from Dell the whole time I was there except for the occasional marketing person. I checked out the partnerships, the acquisitions, and the possibilities all on my own. I also listened a lot to what was being said. But more interesting is what was not being said. There was an unusual air of what's about to happen at Dell World. I've never had that experience at any show before.

Dell has something big up its sleeves.

No, I wouldn't have predicted any of what's going on at Dell today. There is uncertainty in the air. And you can read all about my uncertainty principle in Admin Magazine's Welcome column in Issue 24. 

Dell World 2015 should be very interesting. I'll bet the marketing folks are already rubbing their hands together just thinking about it.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, I was right up front at the Weezer/Duran Duran concert being a "fangirl" as my daughter would say. And she says it like it's a bad thing.

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