Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/11/10/dziuba_dell/

Michael Dell sells you some s**t you don't need

Dude, I'm desperate

By Ted Dziuba

Posted in Developer, 10th November 2008 13:02 GMT

Fail and You Michael Dell will never miss an opportunity to sell you some shit you don't need. Attendees of this year's Dreamforce conference saw a first hand demonstration of this, having to sit through about an hour's worth of of Dell's Always-Be-Closing pitch. Trying his hardest to look like Steve Jobs, Dell successfully turned the Salesforce users' conference into a dog and pony show.

With IT on the chopping block at a lot of shops, Dell is trying to convince customers that the way out of their troubles is to buy more Dell computers. "We can code our way out of this crisis”, he insists, after asking where "Joe the Programmer" is. El Reg actually caught up with Joe. He lives in San Jose and was laid off from eBay last month. When asked for comment, Joe wanted to know if we were hiring. Michael, if Dell is looking for a good programmer, we can send you Joe's CV.

After the overused reference to popular culture, Dell busted out the big guns: a report from McKinsey. Yes, the crack-team that produced Enron's Jeff Skilling is now telling us that "turning off investments in information technology is counterproductive." To the surprise of nobody, Dell suggested that what is productive is buying a slew of new laptops and servers. Mikey-D correctly identified irresponsible lending as the cause of the economic crisis, but failed to point out that Dell also has a financial services arm that will extend you a line of credit to buy Dell hardware. Dude, you're getting a Dell - either with cash or debt.

We were supposed to be learning something tangentially related to Salesforce, but instead, we were introduced to an array of products that Dell is releasing. A new notebook computer that desperately wants to be the Macbook Air, a projector the size of a brick, and some powerful laptops. Even just watching the webcast, you could feel the excitement and energy in the air as people got up and left.

Understandably so: I started getting heart palpitations, and I wasn't even in the live audience. This is true innovation. Now, when you finally snap at that one last Powerpoint presentation, you can easily hurl the projector at the presenter without tearing any of the ligaments in your arm.

Don't have the money for new servers? Well then surely we can interest you in some services. In their words, "What Salesforce did for SaaS, Dell will do for services and IT" - whatever the fuck that means. To explain this new offering, they brought out the suspiciously multisyllabic Steve Schuckenbrock.

As Dell sees it, one of the major problems in IT is the amount of time and resources being spent on systems management. They want to "get rid of stacks and stacks of systems management software that are costing you money.” The solution? Another fucking systems management software suite. This one is way more awesome than anything that's existed for the last fifteen years because it's got a web interface with AJAX and shit. The goal is to "automate the most people-intensive processes in IT."

That doesn't sound good for Joe the Programmer. Dude, you're definitely getting downsized.

Nature scenes and good-looking white people

Schuckenbrock's example is a stolen laptop. A thief makes off with one of your salesman's computer, and the first time that computer is connected to the internet, Dell's software deletes all the sensitive data on the machine and helps authorities locate the thief, as if police cared that much about stolen laptops. Shuckenbrock says that the system is "protecting the most important asset – the information." This is probably little consolation to the poor salesman who was pistol-whipped in the street, as he is more replaceable than the bytes on his hard drive.

The talk ends with Michael Dell touting how "green" his servers are and that energy-efficient computers have saved customers billions in electricity costs. No talk about green computing would be complete without some butt-happy video amalgamation of nature scenes and good looking white people set to an acoustic guitar soundtrack, and Dell's is no exception. Dude, you're getting a sales pitch thinly veiled as an appeal to communal obligation.

Now, what any of this has to do with Salesforce is a bit of a mystery. The closest this boredom-bus came to anything the audience wanted to hear was a short video from inside one of Salesforce's data centers. This presentation had nothing to do with Salesforce products, but it did emphasize Dell's role in the Salesforce architecture. It was hosted by some guy named Klaus who told everybody how great Dell servers were. The video was a disservice to other people named Klaus, divorcing us from the romantic notion that they spend their days bench pressing Volkswagens and kicking Soviet-bloc-terrorist ass all across Eastern Europe.

In the end, though, it's clear that times have changed. Gone are the days of conserving by doing more with less. Ahead are the days of doing the same with more. Buy a bunch of new laptops for sales staff and spend half your IT budget on yet another systems management solution. As long as you're spending money on Dell products, they will tell you that you're headed for success, no matter what irresponsible or short-sighted management strategy your company employs. This will be an interesting couple of months for computer manufacturers, facing the stark reality that customers will make do with old laptops for another year and don't see why they need a new software patch management system.

As for Dell: Dude, you're probably getting a Q4 loss. ®

Ted Dziuba is a co-founder at Milo.com You can read his regular Reg column, Fail and You, every other Monday.