Building the enterprise portfolio

Dell has been on an aggressive acquisition path in recent years, with a focus on its enterprise portfolio. ACN speaks to Dave Brooke, general manager of dell Middle East, about bringing these new solutions to market and Dell’s vision for the cloud

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Building the enterprise portfolio Dramatic transformation: Dell’s acquisitions and growth in enterprise solutions have changed the company, says Brooke.
By  Mark Sutton Published  May 27, 2012

From some perspectives, Dell might be regarded as just a PC manufacturer, albeit one that is fairly stable and profitable in comparison to its competitors. Business end users might be aware of its server business, or that it competes in the storage space. But anyone with an eye on the IT headlines can’t have failed to notice something about the Texan giant - Dell is buying.

Following a management shake-up in 2006, the company has acquired companies as diverse as high-end gaming PC maker Alienware and US outsourcer and services company Perot Systems. In the fifteen months to mid-April 2012, Dell spent over $5 billion on acquisitions, including the announcement of three buys in just four days at the start of that month.

Dell has not just been buying for the sake of it either. It has made strategic additions to its storage and data centre lines, and more recently, has been buying technologies around the cloud – spending around $2bn on cloud-related companies in calendar and fiscal 2011 alone.

Dave Brooke, general manager for Dell Middle East says that customer perceptions of the company are changing as Dell brings these new technologies to its local customers and stakes a claim on a broader piece of the enterprise market.

“If you look at our commercial business over the last several years, the transformation of Dell has been dramatic. A lot of people still see Dell as a company that lets you configure and buy a laptop on the web, but the engagements that we have and the discussions that we have with customers about their data centres, their security requirements, their storage requirements, that is where the strategy and build out is happening within Dell.

“I think if we look at our existing customers, those that we are in communication with, I have no doubt that they see the end-to-end value, I would love to be in a direct conversation with every customer out there. There is lots for us to get done, no question – it is what keeps management employed.”

While Dell is still the leader in the Middle East in notebooks and PCs, according to IDC figures for calendar 2011, it is in the enterprise where the company is seeing most growth. Dell has doubled its workforce in the Middle East in the past twelve months, Brooke says, and has already seen strong demand for some of the newly acquired technologies. Dell has had “tremendous success” in the region with enterprise-level virtualized storage solutions from acquistions Compellent Technologies and EqualLogic, he says, and is also integrating technology around data centre networking from Force10 Networks, into solutions for the region.

“At a pure technology level, strategically Dell has been on a relatively aggressive acquisition strategy over the last several years, and we see those acquisitions as a key component to our build out. Some of the acquisitions are purely an extension of what we sell - if we look at storage for example, it is a logical extension of the environment that we have been operating in for many years in the server space and the data centre, and we have got a phenomenal storage offering,” Brooke says.

In order to deliver these new technologies for the region, Dell has been expanding both its channel partner scope and capabilities, and its own services capabilities in the region. Dell now has complete ownership of break-fix services across the Middle East, Brooke says, but is also extending its range of consulting services in areas such as project management and customer engagement, with both local services resources and offshore capabilities, along with knowledge transfer and education for local customers.
Perot Services, acquired in 2009, has particular strength in healthcare IT services and outsourcing, an area where the company sees synergy as national governments in the region look to improve healthcare delivery.

Another services proposition that Dell is looking to develop is around cloud computing. While Brooke declines to disclose details of Dell’s cloud projects that he says are under way with customers in the Middle East at present, it is clear from the most recent acquisitions Dell has made, that cloud is foremost in the company’s plans.

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