Now that the Dell Technologies World conference has ended, I've had a little time to reflect. This year's Dell Technologies World conference took place April 30 - May 2. It was a large show encompassing keynotes, breakout sessions, Guru sessions, Customer Meetings, Solutions Center, and so much more. The biggest take away for me was the scale and breadth of Dell's portfolio. That seemed to be a recurring theme throughout the show. Dell is now organized across a series of companies including DellEMC, Pivotal, RSA, Secureworks, Virtustream, and VMware. Dell boasts that they have made a staggering 1 trillion dollars in revenue since inception. The company sees this as 1 trillion customer successes. Dell is big, and they'll sell you something at each level of your technology stack, or even the whole stack.
Product announcements were few - a couple of new PowerEdge servers and then the new king of EMC Storage, the PowerMax. I expected to hear more about VMware features in the newly released version 6.7, but that didn't happen. VMware's NSX was given some shine as it's being positioned as a form of universal networking abstraction layer for on-premises private clouds and public clouds. I suspect major announcements related to speeds and feeds happen at the individual shows such as VMworld. The RSA Conference was a couple of weeks ago. It wasn't until this week that I discovered CloudFoundry had its own conference.
Speaking of CloudFoundry, there was some considerable time given to Pivotal and their offerings. The push worked on me, as I spent more than a few sessions learning about what CloudFoundry could do and where it might fit into potential solution offerings.
There were a few trends which received special attention. Each of the trends were tied back to vast portfolio of Dell hardware and services.
- Virtual Reality (VR) / Augmented Reality (AR) / Mixed Reality
- Internet of Things (IoT)
- AI / Machine Learning
It's tough sometimes to see these as more than just the latest fads (especially AR/VR), but there was often data used to back up the talk. IoT and AI are increasingly finding their way into our every-day lives. Cloud has moved from a concept, to a buzzword, to a set of services so vast, businesses are supposed to use multiple vendors. The Dell catalogue helps customers build and manage private clouds and extend them onto public clouds.
Dell appears to be taking a pragmatic view of the future. They see a world where they fit in at all levels. Many have predicted for years that traditional server vendors would be pressured by the growth of cloud adoption. The popular belief a few years ago was that companies such as Dell and HP would lose their standing as they sold fewer servers and expensive SAN storage as more businesses moved to the cloud and shut down their own data centers.
But it looks like things are changing somewhat. The growth of IoT means more data is being collected than ever before, and that data is being collected and possibly processed at the edge. Powering virtual reality requires lots of horsepower and storage for digital assets.
I didn't understand Dell's strategy in the past. It felt like they were buying misfit toys. Worse it seemed like they were doing a double-down on data center equipment when the whole world was going cloud. Now, the strategy seems to be articulated in a way that makes sense at a minimum and ahead of its time at best. Arguments can be made about Dell's leadership position in each of the categories, but you can't say they have many holes in the portfolio. All of the future trends outlined by Dell show that they have products and services to help customers in this new world. Time will tell if the "No Gaps" strategy will work.