A discussion of the present and future for Dell Technologies should start with the company’s namesake. That’s because the company’s founder and chief executive officer, Michael Dell, remains highly involved in the business he launched out of his college dorm room 36 years ago.
Dell isn’t shy about offering his thoughts when it comes to the future direction of the tech industry. In an interview with CRN last month, Dell identified what he viewed as the top tech themes for the coming year. These were multicloud, edge computing, buildout of next-generation 5G and software-defined networks, AI and machine learning, and security.
Like a poker player in a high-stakes game staring at a strong hand, Dell has some major cards to play. One of them is Dell’s majority-owned VMware Inc., the information technology services giant that has enjoyed a run of positive earnings and solid growth. Another is the firm’s strength in the datacenter, which — despite a significant migration of enterprise workloads to the cloud in response to the global pandemic — remains very much a part of the equation for the coming year.
The key question for Dell is: How does the company play its cards into a winning hand?
“The bottom line is it’s a company with a strong position in the datacenter that has an end-to-end portfolio, it’s leveraging a VMware chit and some options that position it for the future,” said Dave Vellante, co-host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE’s livestreaming video studio. “The challenge and opportunity staring at them is becoming a platform for digital innovation, leveraging on-premises, cloud, multicloud and edge versus a company that sells products.”
How it will leverage top tech trends will likely be the focus when Dell’s company holds its Dell Technologies World Digital Experience event on Oct. 21 and 22. TheCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio, will be broadcasting interviews and presentations as part of the virtual gathering this month, and discussion will focus on details and exclusive commentary on new products and partnerships, Dell Technologies’ strategic vision, and the company’s roadmap for success in 2021 and beyond. (* Disclosure below.)
Multicloud and edge-based future
Dell’s approach is to take a systems view of infrastructure modernization by enabling new kinds of operating models built around the key themes identified by Michael Dell. Multicloud offers a prime example of this.
VMware’s portfolio of products runs on multiple clouds, including platforms of the large hyperscalers. In Dell’s recently released Digital Transformation Index, 74% of business leader respondents said they were investing in multicloud environments. IDC has declared 2021 to be the “Year of Multicloud,” with over 90% of enterprises projected to be relying on a mix of public and private clouds.
“That essentially means that those cloud experiences don’t have to belong only in public cloud environments,” said Deepak Patil, senior vice president of cloud platforms and solutions at Dell Technologies, during an interview in September. “Our customers’ workloads are going to be all over the place. So, we are coming at it from the notion of ‘Let’s meet customers where they’re at and bring the cloud experiences, the cloud operating model to wherever their workflows are.’”
However, the concept of cloud is about to shift from multicloud to multi-edge. What Gartner has termed the “distributed cloud” will soon involve cloud workloads running at the edge. There will be “internet of things” edges, 5G edges, multiple places where Dell will be called upon by its customers to provide solutions.
In February, Dell announced a set of enhancements specifically designed to target edge computing. These included new edge server designs, a “modular” datacenter that can be deployed to the base of a cell tower, and software with streaming data analytics for a better understanding of edge operations. In late September, Dell followed with an early access release of ObjectScale, designed to deliver storage solutions across edge environments.
Dell’s focus on the edge offers a hint of the company’s future plans for another critical area: 5G wireless deployment. In November, Dell published a 27-page whitepaper that outlined the company’s 5G strategy. Dell’s strategic approach will center around 5G as a foundational architecture based on an operational model that is driven by APIs and software programmability. This will require the ability to capture and process network data in real time, and that will take AI and machine learning.
“In 5G environments, networks need to manage themselves with zero-touch, self-healing capabilities powered by AI,” said Chris Falloon, a senior partner in Dell’s Global Transformation Office, during an interview in September. “This is the North Star for next-generation network and service management.”
If the past several months are any indication, Dell appears heavily committed to following that North Star. A cornerstone of Dell’s strategy will be an alliance with another firm deeply committed to carving out its own niche in the AI space: Nvidia Corp.
Among the many announcements made by VMware during its VMworld virtual event in late September was the news that it would integrate technologies with Nvidia to accelerate AI adoption through the newly created Project Monterey. Barely two weeks later, Dell announced that it would integrate Nvidia GPUs into its PowerEdge server portfolio with the declared intent to meet customer need for AI and advanced analytics from edge to the hybrid cloud.
The combined power of Dell, VMware and Nvidia behind AI-based platforms and advanced solutions represents a new phase for AI’s role in the enterprise.
“AI has become not just a technology,” said John Furrier, co-host of theCUBE. “Humans used to be the consumers, but AI is doing the consuming now.”
In the security arena, Dell’s strategic approach has been focused on its subsidiary Secureworks Inc., along with VMware, which acquired cybersecurity firm Carbon Black in 2019. Dell sold its RSA cybersecurity unit for $2.07 billion in February in what was widely viewed as a move to reduce a portion of its debt.
Dell’s security position was further outlined earlier this year when it announced new solutions for its “Trusted Device” package to protect the millions of people forced to work remotely during the global pandemic. Key features of this package included Carbon Black’s security software and Secureworks’ accelerated vulnerability assessments.
“Trust is a must,” said Pritesh Parekh, chief trust and security officer, vice president of engineering at Virtustream, in a Forbes post earlier this month. “In fact, forming a trusted relationship with a mission-critical cloud partner may be the single most important step an enterprise can take on its IT journey to cloud.”
In the end, Dell’s strategy is to build a powerful collection of businesses that can control the multicloud conversation for many years to come. With the company’s sights set on $100 billion in annual revenue, the irony is that Dell Technologies still doesn’t feel like the major business it has become, according to its founder.
“Some of the analysts are starting to say: ‘Hey, this doesn’t really feel like a conglomerate,’” said Michael Dell, during an interview with theCUBE at Dell Tech World last year. “I think investors are increasingly understanding that we’ve created an incredible business here.”
Livestream of Dell Technologies World Digital Experience 2020
The Dell Technologies World Digital Experience is a livestream event, with additional interviews to be broadcasted on theCUBE. You can register for free here to access the live event. Plus, you can watch theCUBE interviews here.
How to watch theCUBE interviews
We offer you various ways to watch the live coverage of the Dell Technologies World Digital Experience, including theCUBE’s dedicated website and YouTube channel. You can also get all the coverage from this year’s events on SiliconANGLE.
TheCUBE Insights podcast
Guests who will be interviewed on theCUBE during the Dell Technologies World Digital Experience 2020
Guests who will be interviewed on theCUBE during the Dell Technologies World Digital Experience include Dell Technologies executives Michael Dell, chairman and CEO; Jeff Clarke, COO and vice chairman; Tom Sweet, CFO and executive vice president; Allison Dew, CMO and EVP; John Roese, global CTO for products and operations; Jeffrey Boudreau, president and general manager for infrastructure solutions group; Caitlin Gordon, VP for product marketing; Cheryl Cook, SVP of global channel; Deepak Patil, SVP and GM for cloud; Gil Shneorson, SVP for edge computing offers, strategy and execution; and Jon Siegal, VP of product marketing.
Also in attendance will be Dell EMC’s Puneet Dhawan, director of product management for HCI; Douglas Lieberman, director global alliances; Travis Vigil, SVP for product management; Joe CaraDonna, VP for engineering technology; Devon Reed, product management; Chhandomay Mandal, director of solutions marketing for storage and data protection; Thomas Henson, global business development manager for AI and analytics; and John Shirley, VP for unstructured storage product management.
Other guests include Lee Caswell, VP of marketing for VMware; Guy Bartram, global product marketing and go-to-market specialist for VMware; Greg Altman, IT infrastructure manager at Swiff-Train Company; Utpal Bakshi, global head for Hi-Tech Vertical at Wipro Limited; Satish yadavalli, VP for global cloud and infrastructure at Wipro; William Sharp, Senior VP, Product Development & Strategy at EarthCam, Inc.; and Tim Crawford, CIO strategic advisor for AVOA.
For a complete list of speakers, click here.
(* Disclosure: TheCUBE is a paid media partner for Dell Technologies World. Neither Dell Technologies, the sponsor for theCUBE’s event coverage, nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)
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