For many years for me, the concept of Dell as an Enterprise IT provider always seemed to be….well, a little less than credible but over the past eighteen months or so that has begun to change. And for the me, the most important visible change has been the slow separation between them and EMC.
I like companies to take control of their own destiny; partner where weak but look to strengthen those areas to ensure that they are not exposed when the almost inevitable parting of the ways comes. Very few partnerships in IT stand the test of time; either ending in merger or separation.
Dell have also benefited from rapid commoditisation in the really large specialised data-centres providing customised servers via their DCS division; this has enabled them to work with some of the best and truly begin to understand scale.
They have acquired some interesting IP very cheaply in the form of Exanet; they picked up Ocarina at the right time in Ocarina’s development and finally picked up Compellent after loosing out to HP for 3PAR. They can probably feel pleased that they managed to get HP to overpay for 3PAR but Compellent do have an excellent product and very loyal customers.
Dell have also learnt to listen; their acquisition of The Networked Storage Company allowed them to gain insights from Enterprise customers which I suspect have been invaluable to them. And big storage customers tend to have big IT, so they’ve learnt more than just storage.
I don’t see Dell a lot yet professionally; they stick their heads round the door from time to time but generally they know what we buy and why we buy it. However when they do stick their heads round the door, they listen and appear to take interest.
And finally, they’ve been quietly hiring some really good people; a number of people in extended circle of friends/colleagues are popping up there. These are generally smart people who wouldn’t just jump for the first big pay-cheque waved in their direction; okay, some of them would but most wouldn’t.
Dell are no longer just a website or a glossy insert in a magazine selling you a PC at a knock-price; they appear to be growing into a serious Enterprise IT provider.