Dell Technologies Summit 2019 – Announcements and Analysis

Disclaimer

I was invited to attend Dell Technologies Summit 2019 as part of the Dell Luminaries influencer program.

My flights and accommodations were paid for by Dell Technologies, but there is no requirement for me to create content or provide positive feedback in return.

I have not been compensated in any way, and if I am writing about something, it’s because I believe I have something to add to the conversation. That’s what I tell myself, anyway.

Overview and Venue

The Dell Technologies Summit is a relatively small, annual, invite-only conference where media, analysts and influencers gather to hear the inside scoop on corporate and product strategy from Dell Technologies leadership.

This year, the Dell team made a decision to host the event in their hometown of Austin, and this was a nice change of pace and scenery compared to a venue like Las Vegas. The team really went all-out to provide participants a memorable experience, as well, which included a movie studio tour, custom-fitted cowboy hats and much sought-after Franklin BBQ.

Although I didn’t participate, partake in the food, or take home any gifts, I can appreciate the effort that went into orchestrating the experience for people that are into that kind of thing. Thumbs up.

With that said, I wanted to take a look first at some of the strategic and messaging items that stood out.

Strategy and Messaging

This year, heavy emphasis was placed on the importance of data, and the growth of it, within the next decade. As we all know, data growth has exploded in the recent past, and is projected to increase dramatically in the coming years.

As sellers of infrastructure, it’s not surprising that Dell is attempting to transform discussions about storage into more meaningful ones about data management. I think fellow TFD delegate Keith Townsend hit the nail on the head with his point that Dell isn’t normally part of this data conversation, though. This is typically left for partners to navigate.

As a technical architect working for a partner, this has generally been my experience. It’s not uncommon for a customer to have arrived at some sort of conclusion internally and begin discussions around a narrow set of technical requirements, or even a specific product. This is the start of a storage conversation that is transactional in nature, and not one that provides much long-term value.

While you may win business here in the short term, best results are provided (for the customer and partner) when the approach is more consultative and focuses on the actual business challenge to be solved. High on the list of challenges for many businesses is that of data management, and the trend toward hybrid architectures only increases the importance of this topic.

Determining how data is used across the organization, where it should live, how to retain it and how it should be protected? That’s a valuable conversation to have. Now that Dell Technologies portfolio has solid answers to support this conversation no matter where it goes, it makes sense to see this reflected in the messaging from the top. And, the sooner everyone gets on the same page on this point (vendors, partners and customers), the better outcomes will be for everyone.

On another note, Michael Dell himself remarked that the collective dataset generated by all of humanity holds unmatched potential for change if used properly, and I think he has a great point here. Unfortunately, we all know this dataset will first be mined to learn how to sell us more stuff. 😉

Michael Dell outlining Dell Technologies’ plans for social and environmental change.

A bit later on, a number of examples were given on how Dell Technologies plans to help facilitate broad societal changes, including advancing sustainability, cultivating inclusion and transforming lives. An increasing number of customers must be making purchasing decisions based on perceived ethics of their vendors. Interesting to see whether, and to what degree, this trend continues.

With messaging items out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the key product announcements coming out of the event.

Announcements

There were two primary announcements on the technical side coming out of the Summit this year:

  • The release of PowerOne, the converged “autonomous infrastructure” platform
  • The availability of the new holisitic, on-demand consumption model called Dell Technologies On Demand (DTOD)

Dell Technologies PowerOne

PowerOne is a converged infrastructure stack consisting of PowerEdge compute, PowerMax storage, PowerSwitch networking and, very interestingly, PowerProtect data protection.

Dell Technologies PowerOne CI Unveiling

Traditionally, customers selecting these types of solutions have wanted the predictability and reliability of a vendor reference architecture without the burden of piecing it together themselves. Along with that, a “single throat to choke” from a support perspective was a valuable selling point.

However, things have changed a bit since the heyday of converged infrastructure and those points of value alone are no longer compelling enough. In response, PowerOne attempts to provide customers with an infrastructure stack that is software defined and supplies a cloud-like consumption experience, in addition to the benefits historically associated with CI.

In the real world, the value of these capabilities may vary depending on the scale and operational approach of the customer, but I think this offering represents progress, nonetheless. And, as the leader of the Dell Technologies practice at IT Partners, I believe it’s useful to have an option like this available to help address customer challenges.

Although a detailed examination of the PowerOne architecture and it’s benefits is outside the scope of this post, a solid piece has been published by Moor Insights and can be found here, for those interested.

Dell Technologies On Demand

We’ll wrap things up with a quick look at the new all-inclusive consumption model, Dell Technologies On Demand.

Dell Technologies On Demand Illustration

The trend towards consumption-based billing in the infrastructure space is nothing new. However, there are some interesting pieces here that are sure to catch the eye of CIO’s and other decision makers for whom the consumption-based message appeals to.

Dell Technologies has differentiated itself, it believes, by offering the industry’s “broadest end-to-end portfolio of conumption-based and as-a-service solutions” under the umbrella of DTOD.

Customers can now procure everything from datacenter infrastructure down to the endpoints used to consume hosted services. In addition to the breadth of technologies available, customers can select the payment model the best suits their business, whether this is a Pay as you Grow strategy, or a metered Flex on Demand approach that charges based on consumption.

A number of support, deployment and managed services offerings are available within the program, as well, so that customers can simply transact a holistic solution that meets their needs.

What remains to be seen is how straightforward it is for partners to produce solutions that can be purchased by the end customer. Without naming names, competitive approaches to consumption-based infrastructure have been difficult to work with, causing increased opportunity cost for the partner and frustration for the customer.

Hopefully Dell Technologies has focused on the tooling partners need to produce solutions and not just the financial models needed to make consumption-based billing possible. If that is the case, I see the availability of DTOD as a win for both customers and partners.

For a more detailed look at the offerings within the scope of DTOD, reference the official solution brief produced by the Dell team.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I thought the information and releases coming out of Dell Technologies Summit 2019 were compelling. Evolution is happening in the areas that matter and Dell is addressing customer needs for smarter infrastructure, simplified administration, and cloud-like consumption across their incredibly broad portfolio of solutions.

On a more personal note, I am looking forward to helping customers solve their business challenges by putting these solutions to work in my practice. If you have any questions about these releases or anything else under the scope of the Dell Technologies umbrella, feel free to reach out to me using the info on my About page.

Here’s to a successful 2020!

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