Marc Stitt, formerly of Quest and now Dell's Senior Manager for Virtualization and Private Clouds Marketing, reached out to me recently. That he had made a change and wanted to spend some time talking about Dell's vision. Since I don't speak with Dell all that often, I appreciated the effort.
Historical Dell Position
Where HP, IBM, Sun and other major system suppliers focused on providing a complete environment that included systems (based upon both X86 and their own processors), storage, networking, operating systems, development tools, application frameworks, virtualization platforms and professional services; Dell focused primarily on cost effective, high-volume Industry standard systems.
When a customer wanted a comprehensive, complete systems solution, Dell had to work with partners while the others could offer a integrated offering based upon their own portfolio of products and services.
Dell clearly has decided to reposition itself as a competitor without losing its reliance on X86 processors; Windows and Linux; third party development and deployment environments and virtual machine software. To bolster its position, Dell has been acquiring companies over the last few years. The obvious goal was to build out a position in virtualization and cloud computing.
Since 2010, the company has purchased the following companies:
- KACE Networks was purchased February 11, 2010 giving Dell a systems management appliance
- Exanet was purchased February 19, 2010 giving Dell a position in a distributed file systems segment of the storage virtualization market
- Scalent was acquired July 1, 2010, giving Dell the tools to create a dynamic virtual environment
- Ocarina Networks was acquired July 30, 2010, giving Dell another set of storage virtualization tools. Ocarina focused on storage deduplication and optimization.
- Boomi as snatched up November 2, 2010 to give Dell a set of tools allowing cloud-based applications to be integrated.
- Compellent was next. December 13, 2010 Dell added the company to its storage systems portfolio.
- SecureWorks joined the party January 4, 2011 giving Dell security services.
- Force10 was purchased July 20, 2011 to add data center networking and networking virtualization to Dell's portfolio.
It is important to note that Dell still is not trying to be a soup-to-nuts supplier. The company relies on partners for its access virtualization, application virtualization, and processing virtualization capabilities. It has focused its efforts on fleshing out a portfolio of networking and network virtualization; storage virtualization; security; and management products.
Where Dell is headed now
Stitt presented Dell's focus in the area of virtualization and private clouds. Dell is focused, he said, on providing the tools for IT Service Management, Workload Lifecycle Management and Infrastructure Management. The goals were to offer tools that made it possible for customers to improve their business agility, reduce their operational costs, and better utilize their system resources.
In Dell's view, customers are in transition. They are using "virtualization" (defined as virtual machine software to create virtual servers) so that they can encapsulate their workloads today. Today's efforts will make it possible for customers to decide where their workloads should be hosted. These workloads are largely hosted on-premise today, but Dell is working hard to help its customers create a private cloud environment on-site to obtain agility, self-service and other benefits of that approach. Dell will help some customers move part of these workloads off-premise to take advantage of outsourced private data centers. Dell expects to help other customers take advantage of public clouds when that approach is best.
The company has gathered together a portfolio of tools that can facilitate a move to a virtualized environment and from there on into the clouds. It, to date, isn't trying to be a full service supplier. It is working with its partners to offer everything needed to support customer's IT environments.
It is not clear if this approach will turn out to be better than the more tightly integrated approaches offered by others.
What is clear is that Dell has made great progress from the days when it was only a supplier of systems.