Dell World 2014: Includes Video

Dell World took place last week in Dell’s part of the world: Austin, Texas. As is ESG’s wont these days we travel with our video equipment….and in just a few lines from now you can click to watch our 7 minute summary of what struck us as most interesting.  Now of course our interest tends to follow the coverage areas of the attending ESG analysts (this time, myself and Scott Sinclair on the storage beat, and Nik Rouda looking out for all things big data/analytics), so let me just start with an overall impression from the event. To me the biggest takeaway was to see the genuine and renewed sense of confidence pervading Dell, whereas a year or two back it had seemed somewhat "lost"). Going private (this was the 1 year anniversary of that) has clearly had a strong, positive impact….now of course Dell now has no obligation to share any specific details regarding results or sales, so it did at times sound a bit like the "everything is wonderful" mantra that one naturally gets from startups. However the confidence was not just stage-based....there was a palpable comfort and high morale from the staff.

What else?

  • Michael Dell’s stump speech at the event was joyous about being private, and almost just as joyous about querying the strength of other big integrated IT vendors “enjoying” major corporate change, the value of which might not be clear to users and stakeholders. He was also bullish on the future of laptops – where it seems Dell is growing at the expense of everyone else. With Michael as the effective (and very effective!) salesman-in-chief, it’s easy to get swept up in the hoopla.
  • In my coverage area, storage, Dell quoted industry numbers to bask in its exceptionally good growth (in terms of TB, up some 14% y/y and ahead of both EMC (just) and HP in absolute terms). New products were announced by Alan Atkinson (who runs storage for Dell and whose “special guest appearance” you will have seen in our event video) with his usual gusto: a more-bang-for-your buck [EquaLogic] 4210, the XC converged [Nutanix joint effort] platform and an entry level [price, not feature] 4020 all flash array. 

But products per se were not the main takeaway…..they rarely are at events like this. More importantly, Dell World marked (and I expect we will see this reflected elsewhere) Dell’s continued effort to get away from - or at least to add to - its roots of "one of everything/ web catalog sales" in order to be offering more of an integrated IT/business future promise. With the increasing market focus on convergence in general, there is clearly room for "reliable one-stop-shop enterprise solutions players." In this regard Dell did not do itself any harm with the most organized and logically laid out Expo center I have ever seen.....the challenge is that Dell World is a small event, and events themselves are only one element in any marketing mix. A cynic might ask how long it will be before you get your Dell Converged Infrastructure insert in with the Sunday papers!? But that’s actually more tongue-in-cheek than purely cynical. Dell wants (as ever) to democratize IT….at every level. Now, clearly it does not want to cheapen anything in so doing – perhaps that’s why I heard the word “prestidigitator” in one of the main-tent videos, and perhaps that’s why the emphasis on global, utopian IT frontiers and possibilities was so front-and-center. The message? This is not your father’s Dell, but neither has it forgotten its DNA: pervasive affordable IT, not just for Dell World, but the World. One had to admire the intent….  

Topics: Storage