Dell Enterprise Strategy Update and Social Think Tank Review

I had the great pleasure last week of being invited by Dell to participate in their Enterprise Strategy Update and Social Think Tank event in San Francisco. In addition to moderating the Social Think Tank panel discussion, I was able to attend the briefing that the Dell executives were giving around their latest converged infrastructure offering; Active Systems. Dell’s new addition, Marius Haas (President of Enterprise Solutions Group) along with a handful of others like Dario Zamarian laid out the game plan for moving forward in the world of cloud computing, big data, and converged infrastructure.

As I sat and listened to Marius (a former HP’er as well) he was saying all the right things about the four design principles of a flexible enterprise: modularity, simplification, integration, and standardization although not really coming right out and saying those exact words. This was music to my ears as I have been speaking about these four design principles for many years now as the way to increase the convergence of IT and the business applying them across the business processes, applications, and infrastructure to be a truly flexible enterprise.

You could see the tie-in from the morning’s event to the afternoon’s Social Think Tank event on the Future of Convergence. I could see that what Dell’s execs were talking about was the necessary shift from “vertical stacks” where resources are housed in silos to a “horizontal infrastructure”, which creates a common foundation on which their customers can layer any application or process and how their new Active Systems offerings could help achieve this.

After the executive briefing and announcements were done all of the attendees were shuttled through the demo area to see how Dell was approaching cloud computing, big data, mobility, and ultimately how the new Active Systems was the backbone for making these trends achievable. I took away from the cloud computing demo that Dell was serious about allowing heterogeneity and not forcing homogeneity and monolithic rules as some vendors do. That their cloud solution enabled parallel innovation and fast response to change and provided great support for multi-sourcing (flexibility of outsourcing/in-sourcing), which is a key trend that I’m seeing in the enterprise. Their model driven automation simplifies execution of IT practices and demonstrates that the cost of change can be low and predictable along with automating service lifecycle delivery and management. Great job!

The next section was the “Data Insights” demo and it was good to see that Dell is bringing together Hadoop and other “big data” vendors (Boomi, etc.) along with Crowbar and making it ‘simpler’ for customers to get moving into data analytics and using the insights that their data is giving them to make intelligent decisions. This is also plays into conversations I’ve been having recently around business process modeling and how it’s key to aligning delivery with strategy. This alignment depends on information flowing both ways: the business strategy must be informed by the actual performance of the delivery processes, and can in turn influence ongoing business objectives. It’s great to see that Dell is seeing this as well.

I thanked Dell via Twitter last week but would like to thank them again for sponsoring me and my other industry colleagues and allowing us to take part in some very interesting conversations. It’s great to see that Dell is listening to its customers and spreading the gospel of when you get your IT infrastructure right, anything is possible, and change becomes an opportunity, not an obstacle.

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