I attended Dell World 2011 last week and it was pretty remarkable on a number of levels. On one level, I reflected on Dell’s maturation as an enterprise.
While the majority of what we write about in AustinStartup.com are new hardware and software ideas being brought to market, it’s easy to forget a couple of things. One, that Dell itself – presently 41st on the Fortune 500 list of largest companies – was once an Austin startup, way back in 1984. Two, that the majority of startups would like nothing better than (a) to be acquired by a big company like Dell or (b) to become a big company like Dell.
On another level, it was interesting to observe the evolution of Dell’s position. For those unfamiliar with the classic description of company position by Geoff Moore in Crossing the Chasm, note that position is a noun, not a verb. A position is something a company has, not something it does.
So, it was very interesting to see the lengths that Dell speakers and workers on the exhibit floor went to reinforce the merging position of Dell as the “new HP” (my words).
Gone are the days of Dell consumer devices dominating the spotlight – the MP3 players, bargain-priced plasma TVs, and Dell Streaks of the world. Sure, they are still there, but now mainly referred to as “end points” or “nodes.” (By the way, did I forget to say this was an IT-centric crowd?)
In their place are two big messages, at least that I took away from Dell World 2011:
First message: that Dell is emerging as the pre-eminent end-to-end computing solutions company on the planet – more than IBM, more than Cisco, and definitely more than anything you will ever see from Apple!
One of the many examples of this IT-centric, end-to-end, “big iron” preeminence was the demonstration modular data center that Dell showed on the exhibit floor.
Some facts about the modular data center (shown in the photo above): contains 1,920 servers, 138 terabytes of RAM, multiple petabytes of storage, and is 100% free air cooled. Stick that in your iPhone 4S pipe and smoke it!
Second message: that when it comes to “end points,” Dell loves PCs. No, you don’t understand: I mean Dell LOOVVVVEEESSSSSS PCs!
Over and over you heard this phrase – “We love PCs” – during the two days of guest keynote and Dell corporate speakers. Michael said it. Steve Ballmer of Microsoft said it. Paul Ottelini of Intel said it, although he also liked referring to Intel’s reference platform of the future, which Intel calls “the Ultrabook.”
In fact, Intel believes there is still so much room remaining for next generation PCs, that it has opened a $300 million fund to spur innovation with the “suppliers to the suppliers” of ultrabook devices. In other words, the fund isn’t meant for the Dells or even the next hot tablet start-up. Instead, it’s for the companies creating the power supplies, graphics controllers, and wireless adapters for those future devices.
The beauty of these kinds of investments, for those of us focused on the mobile and app world, like I am at Appconomy, is that such innovations will only serve to benefit the larger industry as a whole.
And, that’s a big reason why I enjoyed being at Dell World, seeing the energy and enthusiasm up close of companies like Intel, Microsoft, and especially Dell, working hard every day to stay on top of the tech mountain.
If you were at Dell World 2011 or attended any of the events & activities, let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.