The details of the newly announced Dell Virtual Integrated System Architecture are well outlined by Larry Dignan in his Between the Lines blog this morning, but my impression is that, while this is a good technical move on Dell's part, it's actually a far better long term position play than might be first acknowledged. Dell knows that this isn't a near-term game, and companies are making decisions that will affect datacenter purchasing cycles for at least a full datacenter lifecycle.
With the ability to work with existing and legacy equipment already in the customer's datacenter, Dell isn't walking in and yelling, "buy all your new product from us!" instead, the approach seems to be more of "adopt our management and deployment architecture and we will maximize your existing investment while preparing for the future." This is a much simpler and palatable message for IT. And a much easier capital outlay for IT to justify to business management.
Dell is aware that there is a significant percentage of enterprise IT that still hasn't committed to a definitive long term strategy for their datacenters and the cloud. On all likelihood, this is still the majority of the marketplace. While some enterprises will jump into the future with both feet, the larger group will craft a strategy for the move that starts with the current investment in technology and build on it, replacing and updating as needed. And the VIS architecture seems positioned to facilitate just that, even if the customer is already invested in traditional IT management software,
Larry points out that Dell's message as an evolutionary path to the cloud could resonate with IT managers. But I think that what Dell may be offered is the esoteric evolutionary missing link; a piece of the puzzle that allows IT to keep a foot in the past and the future, getting the most out of the past, building for the future business model, and improving the overall chances for technologic and business success by getting the most value for the IT dollar spent.