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Posted by Richard Fichera on August 26, 2010
Historically, the positioning of Dell versus its two major competitors for high-value enterprise business, particularly where it involved complex services and the ability to deliver deeply integrated infrastructure and management stacks, has been as sort of an also ran. Competitors looked at Dell as a price spoiler and a channel for standard storage and networking offerings from its partners, not as a potential threat to the high-ground of being able to deliver complex integrated infrastructure solutions.
This comforting image of Dell as being a glorified box pusher appears to be coming to an end. When my colleague Andrew Reichman recently wrote about Dell’s attempted acquisition of 3Par, it made me take another look at Dell’s recent pattern of investments and the series of announcements they have made around delivering integrated infrastructure with a message and solution offering that looks like it is aimed squarely at HP and IBM's Virtual Fabric.
Consider the overall pattern of investments:
In addition to these investments, Dell has organized parts of the company around integrated infrastructure solutions, increased hiring, and seems to generally be doing all of the internal things needed to bring complex products like an integrated virtualized infrastructure stack to market. Their go to market messaging for their offerings are under the VIS (Virtual Integrated System) umbrella, which currently includes their VIS Director (infrastructure services monitoring), VIS Self-Service Center, and now Scalent, under the name Advanced Infrastructure Manager.
Barriers? Plenty, including the technical aspects of integrating all of the acquired IP, significant hurdles to fully integrate Perot Systems, and a continuing cultural revolution within Dell. But this time, as opposed to several legacy programs that went no further than the PowerPoint Zone, it appears that Dell has the right vision for the times, is on the way to offering a well-structured suite of offerings to bring the vision to market, and has executive backing to make it happen. Even more importantly, customers may be ready to listen – Forrester has talked to several large HP and IBM shops recently who were aware of what Dell was going to offer and, while not ready to switch vendors now, would be willing to put Dell into serious consideration for future procurements where they would previously have not been a serious contender.
Andrew and I are having fun trying to tweeze out the implications of both the in-play acquisition of 3Par and the ongoing strategic evolution at Dell, and we’d love to hear from you as well.
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