The view from the airport: Dell Technologies World 2018
A quiet show speaks volumes to Dell's plans for a public return
This year's Dell conference has been a somewhat paradoxical affair. The newly-rebranded Dell Technologies World 2018 was the company's largest ever event, with some 14,000 attendees, but in spite of this, it felt noticeably quieter than last year's show.
If I had to guess, I'd say this is probably because last year's show was such a blow-out. In that year, Dell pulled out all the stops to launch a truly staggering number of product updates across virtually all of its lines, while this time around we didn't see anything like as many.
That's not to say that there wasn't anything for Dell customers to get excited about, though. The company used the show to debut two new servers aimed at hefty data analytics workloads which it claims are the fastest in their category, as well as a new all-flash storage array that's supposedly twice as fast as any of the competition. Bold claims, to be sure we'll have to wait until we can get them in the labs before we can see if they hold water.
There's some even more interesting hardware developments on the horizon, however. Product VP Jeff Clarke gave attendees a sneak preview of a new server product set to be launched later this year the PowerEdge MX. This modular system will supposedly offer customers the pinnacle of customisable infrastructure, and it looks like a very interesting proposition indeed. Certainly one to watch in the back half of 2018.
Dell executives had a primary message one of unity between the firm's various constituent business. The company is looking to cement its hold on business IT by increasing the number of customers who buy from multiple companies under the Dell Technologies banner, so the show was heavy on emphasising how well VMware, VxRail, Pivotal, et cetera all work together.
Overall though, this year's show gave the impression that Dell Technologies is in a holding pattern. While there were a few announcements made at the show, there was little in the way of actual substance. To me, this implies that Dell is battening down the hatches in preparation for some big changes, and further fuels rumour that the company is poised to rejoin the public stock market.
It will be interesting to see how such a move pans out for Dell both the company and the man. When Michael Dell originally took the company private five years ago, it's understood that one of his principle reasons for doing so was to get out from under the thumb of investors like Carl Icahn. The fact that the company is planning a return to the market could indicate that Dell feels he now has enough clout to take on Icahn and his ilk directly.
Something tells us that we could be looking at a very different Dell World next year.