Desktop Virtualization and the Death of the PC
It may simply be a question of "when" not "if" a range of mobile computing devices displaces the PC.
When I was a kid, one of the first lessons I learned was when something in the house breaks, leave the scene of the crime as quickly if possible, even if you are innocent. Most adults, I realized, were firm believers in collective punishment when confronted with a chorus of "not me" 's.
So I had to chuckle a bit when Dell unveiled its latest enterprise platform upgrades this week. There's nothing wrong with the new PowerEdge and Equalogic iterations. Indeed, on-server PCIe-based Flash and optical networking are exactly what enterprises are looking for to accommodate both the high-speed and high-volume data environments coming at them. But the fact that the company doesn't seem to want to talk about PCs speaks volumes about its view of the future of IT.
Remember, it was only last Friday that HP issued fourth quarter results showing some very tough sledding for PCs. With iPads and smartphones all the rage with young people, the expectation is that enterprise data environments will quickly shift away from the PC, much as former HP CEO Leo Apotheker predicted before he was sacked last fall.
For Dell's part, the company has suddenly become very eager to shed its image as a PC company and more of a developer of enterprise solutions. The company will still make them for a little while longer, but they no longer serve as the engine driving company profits. In the future, that task will fall to a growing line of integrated hardware/software platforms meant to drive efficiency and meet the needs of expanding data loads.
As a kicker, Dell has also acquired backup and recovery developer AppAssure, which specializes in the burgeoning field of application and data reliability as opposed to more traditional resource and infrastructure protection. The slight change of focus should help enterprises maintain reliability of mission-critical apps and services as they traverse virtual and cloud environments.
None of this represents a particularly new strategy for Dell, mind you. The company long ago shed its reputation as a maker of high-volume, low-margin commodity hardware, and the increased focus on integrated platforms and services has guided most of the top vendors' strategies for the past several years. What's interesting is how quickly Dell is willing to distance itself from the PC platforms that were largely responsible for turning it into a household name.