Dell takes shots at HP, continues IT services push

AUSTIN, Tex. – On the eve of its first ever Dell World (Nasdaq: DELL) conference, company executives took a few digs at rival HP Co. (NYSE: HPQ)and released new enhancements aimed at rebranding itself as an end-to-end IT services vendor.

Speaking at a media and analysts preview event in Austin, Tex., CEO Michael Dell stressed the importance of his company’s recent acqusitions – including Compellent, Force10, Ocarina Networks and KACE Systems – which has broadened Dell’s focus from a hardware devices firm to a full stop IT solutions company.

He added that Dell has shifted from a “product or box” focus to an enterprise focused data centre solutions provider.

“You’re going to be hearing more about the new Dell, which is an end-to-end service provider,” Dell said.

The “new Dell,” which is more concerned with connecting legacy apps and cloud apps together than with selling PCs, now appears poised to tackle HP’s business.

The company teamed up with Technology Business Research to release a new survey this week culling data from 130 of HP’s large U.S. customers.

Dell said that 46 per cent of respondents are now less likely to purchase HP products and services, with roughly the same amount of respondents saying they were investigating alternatives to using HP PCs and mobile devices.

The survey findings, Dell said, confirm what the company has been hearing from many CIOs, nervous about their long-term technology investments.

“There’s an opportunity that’s been created by turmoil and uncertainity at one of our major competitiors,” Dell’s CEO said, referring to HP.

To highlight this shift, Dell’s first announcements at Dell World week included new enhancements to its Dell vStart virtualization solution and upgrades to its data storage compression and data dedupe technology.

On the virtualization front, Dell said it is adding Compellent and Force10 capabilities into its vStart offering, available in 2012. With vStart, Dell pre-tests virtualized infrastructure setups before pushing it along to the end user.

With the storage update, Dell announced the addition of compression capabilities for the Dell DX Object Storage Platform. The move will utlize the company’s Ocarina Networks acqusition and will eventually offer customers the ability to compress stored data by up to 90 per cent.

But while Dell said he was more focused on the complete package for customers and not the device, the chief executive assured customers that its client device business isn’t going away anytime soon.

“There are a billion and a half PCs in the world, that seems to me like a pretty big number,” Dell said. “The estimates are that they’ll be 2 billion PCs in a few years, so it’s a growth market.”

Dell said that the client device continues to be part of the total IT solution for businesses.

“To take away part of the solution, we don’t think that makes a lot of sense,” he said, in response to a question about HP’s potential PC division selloff.

Steve Schuckenbrock, the president of Dell Services who formally worked as the global CIO for PepsiCo, said IT leaders need to “innovate or die” to stay relevant at their organizations.

He hopes Dell can help organizations embrace consumerization, which goes beyond the end user device, to help create dynamic IT environments that take advantage of all the data an organization brings in.

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