Feeds

The only thing holding Dell back is ... er, Mickey D himself

Namesake CEO might need to shift off box-shift to avoid revenue dip

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Blocks and Files Uncertainty abounds at Dell's Texas HQ as Michael Dell struggles to take the company private. Sources keep whispering that there's a "plan" in the offing – but what is that plan?

My personal prediction – reading the tea leaves at the bottom of the Dell teacup – is that the deeply fractured organisation wants to dance with the big enterprise supply folks – such as IBM, HP and Oracle – but just can't get its act together.

Dell buys suppliers with technology bits that are missing from its enterprise offering, like AppAssure, Compellent, Ocarina, Quest and others. On the face of it, these bought-in enterprise IT building blocks should fit together with Dell's existing server and desktop hardware, but the result looks malformed – and, somehow, Dell keeps on missing the enterprise supplier boat.

It doesn't help, in my view, that Dell, with a motto of "Better Together" keeps many of its operations apart. In storage, for example, we have EqualLogic in the Boston area, Compellent in Minnesota, Ocarina in Silicon Valley and Exanet in Israel. It doesn't want to destroy those units' individual corporate cultures and so Dell spends an inordinate amount of time co-ordinating these various storage operations instead.

Links between these engineering sales teams and the sales groups are vital to keep everybody on the same page when talking to customers. Yet sometimes those links seem ineffective, as we hear is the case between one of the aforementioned storage operations and a major sales group.

Now we hear Dell is laying people off, and not just any people; enterprise-focused people are being given the boot too. In the words of Dell spokesman David Frink talking about layoffs: "We do not provide specifics regarding numbers, locations or those affected ... As is our practice, we won’t comment on speculation regarding operations at any specific location.

In El Reg storage desk's view, Dell has overlapping backup products with AppAssure and Quest, rationalisation has to be done and casualties happen. But quite senior and experienced enterprise people are leaving as well, apparently unconnected with such rationalisation.

Michael Dell needs to grow and motivate the enterprise systems sales teams. He needs trusted lieutenants, and so goes and recruits Marius Haas in August 2012, from running mergers and acquisitions at HP under Mark Hurd, to be Dell's Enterprise Solutions Business president. It looks like Marius is now tweaking and trimming the enterprise solutions crew.

His team is cracking the enterprise sales and marketing and strategy whip but to little substantial effect in terms of business results. Dell, after all, is no revenue high-flier, with quarterly revenues pretty much flat-lining at the $14bn area after annual revenues dropped from $62bn in fiscal 2012 to $57bn in fiscal 2013. Still, the Haas effect has only had 12 months to work, though investors must be hoping for a little more of a turnaround, and a little more sense of strong direction coming out of Dell's Round Rock HQ?

This is a currently a company where almost no decisions can be taken for the "long term" because no one knows what will happen next. If Michael Dell gets the stockholder vote he wants, and takes the company private, then he and his lieutenants can tear up the organisation and reshape it.

There is a fear that you can take a guy away from box-shifting but you may not be able to take box-shifting away from the guy. Could it be that Dell's real problem is "founderitis"? If so, that can only be sorted by the board bringing in some new blood. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Airbus promises Wi-Fi – yay – and 3D movies (meh) in new A330
If the person in front reclines their seat, this could get interesting
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
Want to beat Verizon's slow Netflix? Get a VPN
Exec finds stream speed climbs when smuggled out
Samsung threatens to cut ties with supplier over child labour allegations
Vows to uphold 'zero tolerance' policy on underage workers
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.