For the first time since the merger, Dell EMC held a conference that showed of the combined company and highlighted the strategic and technological direction the company will be taking. Mark Davison was at Dell EMC World in Las Vegas

To many people the hype around digital transformation is viewed as being confined mainly to the US, but nothing could be further from the truth as the reality of the 4th Industrial Revolution hits home globally.

In fact, says Aongus Hegarty, president of Dell EMC in EMEA, for many companies in the region, digital transformation is top of mind.

“IT is certainly the number one conversation I’m having with customers in EMEA,” Hegarty says. “Digital transformation is overarchingly transforming business and business models and it’s influencing all industries. Most companies realise it is a threat to their business, but there opportunities are anchored in it too. Those that are taking it on are certainly the ones having the first advantage to drive change.

“The majority of customers are struggling with digital transformation, but we try to simplify it for them by breaking it down to IT transformation, workforce transformation and security transformation,” he adds.

And it’s not just large corporates that are taking on digital transformation head-on. Many smaller companies in EMEA, Hegarty says, are also rapidly realising they have to adapt to this new world.

“In fact, many smaller companies in the region have become disrupters because they are flexible and nimble enough to embrace digital transformation,” he says. “There are some very innovative approaches that different companies have taken.”

Martin Mayr, senior vice-president at Cancom AG, says that the channel has a crucial role to play in helping their customers ease into the digital age.

“Partners always have had a more important role in EMEA than in the US because of the number of different regions, different languages, different cultures,” Mayr says. “And there are two major reasons for an indirect model as opposed to a direct one: Firstly, the cost of sales; and secondly, scale.

“With the world changing so rapidly and the likes of cloud becoming an enabler of digital transformation, the world is also becoming a lot more complex,” Mayr continues.

“It is no longer just about client, about infrastructure, about petabytes. It’s about the management of processes and understanding the nature of the customer’s business. Is it on-premise or off, is it hybrid cloud? And within all that there are many different flavours. It is not ‘one size fits all’ and solutions need to be tailored.

“So the role of the channel is, and will be, more important than ever,” Mayr adds.

Srood Sherif, group CIO of Kuwait Finance House, agrees that the world is rapidly changing.

“I think the buzzwords of cloud and digital transformation have changed the canvas of IT, especially for financial institutions,” Sherif says. “From a banking point of view, we are trying to digitise the customer experience while at the same time, on the infrastructure side, we are trying to build the necessary infrastructure to enable any solution that comes in to be easily integrated.

“All this generates a lot of pressure on IT, but it is something we have to do,” Sherif says. “The world is heading that way, so you better be on the wagon rather than chasing after it.”


The impact of digital transformation

Digital transformation and the impact it will have on organisations’ IT, workforces and the way they view security has been the dominant theme at this year’s Dell EMC World in Las Vegas.

Speaker after speaker stressed this to the 13 000 delegates at Dell EMC World, as the company announced a slew of new modern data centre innovations, which it says each serve a specific and meaningful role toward helping customers realise their goals for digital transformation.

“Digital transformation will change fundamentally how every business in every industry is built and operated, and how it interfaces with customers,” says Jeremy Burton, chief marketing officer at Dell EMC. “The unprecedented amounts of users, applications and data volumes will simply break traditional infrastructure. To succeed in this new digital world, companies will require an IT transformation.

Today’s new announcements from Dell EMC help customers along this path by basing their IT on a modern architecture as the foundation for a hybrid cloud. Today’s announcements also make it easier for companies to buy from Dell EMC through the adoption of a cloud-like pricing model. Customers can scale up or scale down their environments, only paying for what they use at the component level, or at the data centre level.”

Companies behind the IT transformation curve are those that are held back by legacy infrastructures, Burton says. As organisations look to digitally transform, IT maturity may be a deciding factor for determining which companies win.

In fact, the new Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) 2017 IT Transformation Maturity Curve study commissioned by Dell EMC shows that 85% of the most mature organisations believe they are in a “very strong” or “strong” position to compete and succeed in their market over the next few years contrasted with 43% of the least mature companies.

However, making any progress in IT maturity drives agility, innovation and improved business outcomes.

“The digital transformation mega trend will only intensify, reinforcing the need to start the IT transformation journey now,” says David Goulden, president, Dell EMC. “Dell EMC is the ideal partner to help customers take this first step. The creation of Dell EMC has rapidly accelerated our ability to develop and deliver technologies that will underpin the next wave of innovation and progress for our customers.”


The key to entrepreneurial success?

In an era of budding entrepreneurs, one of the IT industry’s greatest – Dell Technologies chairman and CEO Michael Dell – has some sage advice for those eager to follow in his footsteps.

At a press Q&A at Dell EMC World, Dell seemed taken by surprise when asked from the floor what his best advice would be to SMBs and budding entrepreneurs.

“That’s a pretty broad question,” he pondered. “[The problem] is that some people say that technology is not really an IT function anymore, or, just give us some of the tools that we need.”

This scenario can sometimes impact companies involved in IT, especially SMBs.

“Whether you are small or large, you can’t do anything really well without technology – you have to figure out how to leverage these [technology] tools,” Dell says. “Small companies can invent a new business, or re-invent their existing business using technology.

“My best advice is to embrace risk,” he continues. “Risk goes hand-in-hand with innovation and growth.

“My observation is that too many people are afraid to fail and don’t take on risk and, therefore, access less of their potential,” Dell says. “Having said that, there are some bold entrepreneurs out there doing good things.

“I’ve taken some risks along the way and it worked out pretty well for me,” he adds with a smile. “So I’m just going to continue doing what I do.”


Michael Dell still has no regrets

We have heard from reliable sources that Michael Dell, chairman and CEO of Dell Technologies, has the incredible knack of turning up unscheduled at various meetings, often catching those gathered by surprise.

We got confirmation of this trait at Dell EMC World when he arrived unannounced to take some questions at an EMEA breakout session.

We also got confirmation that he is still, as IT-Online reported nearly two years ago, a man with no regrets.

Asked from the floor whether he might regret the merger between Dell and EMC given the scale and breadth of its solutions portfolio, he was quick to point out that he is “quite happy” with the results.

He then further continued: “A little bit of my history is doing things that people say I shouldn’t. I don’t have a problem with that. Look back at the history of our company.

Lots of times, people said don’t do that … don’t start a company in your college dorm room with $1 000.

“I absolutely believe we have a big role to be the essential infrastructure company,” he says. “And with the massive consolidation that will happen in infrastructure, we’re in a great position to win that. We’re a unique company with special capabilities. We also have a unique structure … we’re a private company … a family-owned company.”

So bearing this in mind, can we expect Dell Technologies to be more aggressive in the market in the future?

“Yes,” was simply all Michael Dell had to say.


The ‘black sheep of the family’

If he hadn’t started tinkering with computers while at college, things could have worked out very differently for Michael Dell – a totally different vocation, for instance.

It’s one of those questions everyone wants to ask, but no-one ever does. At a Press Q&A here at Dell EMC World one emboldened journalist eventually posed the question to the Dell Technologies chairman and CEO many of us have held back on: If you hadn’t got involved in technology, what would you have done?

“I’m not really sure,” Dell replied. “I suppose I would have been a doctor. My mother and father – and brother – are all doctors … even my father-in-law is a doctor. So I’m kind of the black sheep of the family.

“I probably would have been a doctor somewhere,” he says.

“But it’s interesting seeing the incredible things in medicine because of technology … genetic sequencing, for example. I think, looking forward to the future of medicine, that some incredible advances will be driven by technology.

“I’m not a doctor,” Dell adds, “but I make a lot of cool stuff that empowers doctors out there. That’s really satisfying.”


The PC is dead! Long live the PC!

Back in the 1980s, Michael Dell founded his company on the humble PC and, he says, despite the huge transformation of the company today, it remains an integral and core part of the business.

“Clearly, what Dell Technologies does today is far beyond just the PC,” the current chairman and CEO says. “But the PC is still very important to our customers and to us.

“For us, the average selling prices are going up, not down,” Dell adds, “and revenue and market share is on the rise. We’ve had 17 quarters in a row of gaining market share and, in fact, our 18th quarter will show this too. We’ve invested in innovation and R&D and it’s paid off.”

Dell says that consolidation in the market and the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) has boosted its PC business.

“I think IoT lends itself to PCs,” Dell continues. “We learned a lot about distributed computing from the work we did in the client business. And with the adoption of technology such as 5G that will connect billions of machines, this will create a new distributed computing model. And then there’s cloud. This is all about data, enormous amounts of data, and not all of that will sit in one place. So you get an even more distributed environment.

“The client business has had a resurgence,” he says. “Business is different today and, along with this, there is workplace transformation. It doesn’t make sense to give people in an organisation the cheapest, lowest-cost computer if you want to attract them and retain them. You give them great tools that inspire both them and their productivity.

“I think that is one of the reasons that the average selling prices are going up,” he says. “The features and capabilities that we build into our PC products is being rewarded. We’re growing this business.

“I think you’ve also got to remember that it is a $170-billion space,” Dell adds. “And we’re all positive that we’ll continue to gain share.”


New server range raises the bar

Dell has announced the 14th generation of its PowerEdge servers, designed specifically to help customers in their quest for digital transformation. The new servers are due to ship mid-year.

Dell chairman and CEO, Michael Dell, has described the launch of the new servers as one of the most significant in the company’s history.

Dell EMC says the new PowerEdge is the ideal foundation for cloud, analytics or software-defined data centre initiatives. The new portfolio delivers innovation in three key areas:

Scalable business architecture optimises data centres for a wide variety of new and emerging workload requirements.

Intelligent automation via expanded APIs and the all-new OpenManage Enterprise console enable IT to spend more time on higher priority work

Integrated security protects customers’ businesses and data for the life of the server

“In today’s digital economy, technology must transform at the speed of business to develop and deploy new applications, optimise resources and deliver an ideal customer experience,” says Ashley Gorakhpurwalla, president: server solutions division at Dell EMC. “With our leadership in server technology innovations, the newest generation of PowerEdge servers are the bedrock of the modern data centre.”

Legacy data centre technologies are not agile, flexible or efficient enough to meet the needs of businesses undergoing a Digital Transformation. In fact, the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) 2017 IT Transformation Maturity Curve study, commissioned by Dell EMC, showed that only 5% of survey respondents are currently prepared to meet the IT requirements of digitally transformed businesses with modern platforms.

PowerEdge 14th generation servers will be embedded in storage and data centre appliances, hyper-converged appliances and racks, ready nodes, bundles and other industry-leading Dell EMC solutions.

The new scalable business architecture of the PowerEdge servers enable customers to meet dynamic business needs with performance optimised for traditional and cloud-native workloads. The new portfolio is enhanced to:

Increase application performance and response time;

Get results from PowerEdge faster; and

Access to the right data at the right time.

Newly-enhanced systems management features embedded in the Dell EMC PowerEdge portfolio uniquely automate productivity and simplify lifecycle management from server deployment to retirement. These new management features:

Unify the server management experience and provide full data center monitoring;

Speed troubleshooting and maximise server uptime;

Enable faster remediation; and

Improve power efficiency and compute density.

The Dell EMC PowerEdge portfolio embeds new hardware and system-level security features to protect the infrastructure with a deep layer of defence and quick detection in order to recover to a trusted base, if breached. The differentiated security features in the server:

Prevent unauthorised or inadvertent changes;

Secure data centre through a cyber-resilient architecture; and

Ensure privacy.

“Dell continues to grow its server business as a combined company with EMC,” says Matt Eastwood, senior vice-president: enterprise infrastructure and data centre at IDC.

“This new PowerEdge portfolio addresses a broad set of customer needs from traditional business use cases to cloud-native applications while offering a strong foundation to support future IT and business needs. Dell EMC has continued to invest in innovative technology combinations, which has resulted in a secure, scalable infrastructure and comprehensive solutions portfolio.”