This is the first truly combined event between Dell and EMC since the merger and one thing hits you right off. A ton of people are at this thing. This is scary rock concert big and you get a sense of scale that, currently, no other firm can match. Dell reaches from gaming PCs to hyperconverged systems, it leads in a whopping 15 Gartner Magic quadrants and, depending on segment, it’s in between 70 percent and 100 percent of virtually any grouping of customer companies.
Let me break down some of the elements of this talk.
Setting the Stage
Dell sets the stage by talking about what makes Dell EMC different. It is a blend of the scale and scope of the company, combined with the unique fact that it is private which, Michael Dell argues, results in the only technology of scale that is agile. He is pointing out again that going public creates a massive drag on a firm’s ability to change with the market or customer needs. I’m still surprised that Dell pretty much stands alone in this, even though it is clear that most other firms of scale are struggling with their “activist” investors, which are mostly hedge funds that want to kill the firm in order to spike the stock.
It is really important in keynotes at this scale that they are about the customers and not just about the capabilities and products of the vendor. Boeing was first up. Arguably the most powerful aerospace company in the world, it has a scope that nearly encompasses the entire breadth of Dell’s products and services. It is a 20-year relationship and Boeing testified that this relationship was critical to its success. One of the critical products that Boeing is using is apparently Pivotal Cloud Foundry, effectively helping transform Boeing into a more software-centric company so Boeing can move more quickly.
Sony was used to showcase specifically how Dell EMC was helping the firm transform movie creation. Movies today are packed with technology; rendered scenes define movies like the new Spiderman movie and render farms often are both the problem and solution to getting movies out in a timely manner. Sony attested that Dell was critical to its ability to get these movies to market quickly.
I’m a Jaguar driver, I have two of them, and I’ve signed up to buy the new iPace, the all-electric car, which was designed using Dell EMC’s tools and launched using VR with Dell’s technologies. I was at the launch and it was an impressive way to give an audience the feeling of being in a car that didn’t really exist in final form yet. Apparently, there are Jaguars on the show floor, which I’ll have to check out later.
Securing the Infrastructure
One of the biggest concerns that surrounds IT today is security. Dell has one of the broadest tool sets, thanks to the merger, including VMware, RSA, SecureWorks, Mozy and other offerings. This provides a layered approach to security that, in terms of depth and breadth, also appears unmatched.
Chief Customer Officer Karen Quintos
Karen Quintos is the most powerful woman at Dell EMC as the chief customer officer, and she is in charge of assuring customer loyalty. She spoke to a firm that is working on Transitional Genomics with Dell to personalize health care. Currently, it is focused on a very specialized area of pediatric cancer research, neuroblastoma. They are apparently now broadening the research into Alzheimer’s disease.
Another effort that Dell EMC is working on is to intercept the plastic that is currently going into oceans and repurposing it for manufacturing the packaging for PCs, and it is using this as a template for what other companies can do to protect the oceans (current projections indicate there will be more plastic bottles in the ocean than fish by 2050).
David Blaine, the magician, got on stage and first worked with Michael Dell and then with members of the audience with some sleight of hand tricks. The issue that he was there to correct is the tendency for an audience to start doing email and disengaging during a talk like this. I will say this: When the guy put the ice pick through his hand, all eyes were back on stage and email generation dropped off a cliff. It was interesting that the presentation used a Dell rack-mounted server as the table on which the tricks were done.
Dell EMC President David Goulden
David Goulden, Dell EMC president, is the guy who effectively runs the tightly merged parts of Dell EMC and he was solidly on the digital transformation business. He suggested three steps: First modernize, then automate, and finally transform IT operations. Apparently, Dell just finished a large survey that indicated that firms that have completed this process have freed up 33 percent of their budget and are now executing at a speed where they are regularly exceeding delivery expectations for new applications. They are better, faster and cheaper than they were before. Goulden then went through the series of critical announcements from Dell EMC.
Intel’s data center leader, Diane Bryant, went on stage to speak about Dell EMC’s and Intel’s close relationship with regard to the new 14G servers coming to market (far faster, far more automated than prior generations). Bryant was one of the most powerful women at Intel and folks were surprised at the recent announcement that she would be stepping out of the company. It was nice to see her on stage. These servers have massive increases in flash and GPU density, which is how they get to their vastly higher performance numbers.
Keynotes are about setting the tone for a conference. An interesting difference with this one was the massive breadth as they even mentioned Alienware on stage. It really provided a sense of just how broad Dell has become. In addition, the break in the middle was unique. This idea of getting eyeballs back on stage was effective, I think. These things can get a bit dry and I’ve never really understood, given that many of these things are in Las Vegas, why entertainment isn’t used more often to bring the eyes back on stage.
Finally, the efforts that Dell is making to address illnesses that affect both ends of the human age range and help drive efforts to remove plastics from the ocean were compelling, because they did good and because they showcased unique Dell EMC advantages. Apparently, I will have a very full three days here.
Rob Enderle is President and Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, a forward-looking emerging technology advisory firm. With over 30 years’ experience in emerging technologies, he has provided regional and global companies with guidance in how to better target customer needs; create new business opportunities; anticipate technology changes; select vendors and products; and present their products in the best possible light. Rob covers the technology industry broadly. Before founding the Enderle Group, Rob was the Senior Research Fellow for Forrester Research and the Giga Information Group, and held senior positions at IBM and ROLM. Follow Rob on Twitter @enderle, on Facebook and on Google+