Dell will release a final VIS component, VIS Director, in the coming quarters, probably early next year, Endebrock said. It, too, will be based on a partner technology, and will provide monitoring and analytics capabilities to improve performance.
Mark Bowker, a senior analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group, said the market for products like VIS is still emerging. Dell could use its services business, formed when it bought Perot, to help sell the products, he said. It could put together a virtual desktop offering, he suggested, providing the back-end infrastructure and also the desktops and support.
One of Dell's biggest challenges will be overcoming a perception that it lacks the technology know-how to help manage complex virtual environments. "At the heart of this story is Dell groping to establish a new identity, as opposed to the de facto one the market assigned to it," said Forrester Research analyst Frank Gillett.
Some customers say they have more confidence in Dell today than they used to. Jim Journeay, an infrastructure technology specialist at Meridian Credit Union in St. Catherines, Ontario, said his company recently switched to Dell servers from IBM. It switched because Dell's servers were cheaper, but he has also been impressed with the attentiveness from Dell's Perot staff, he said.
"Dell has come a long way in the last couple of years. They weren't seen before as so much as a solid server platform," Journeay said. He's not using any of Dell's VIS software today, preferring VMware's management tools, but he said he would consider VIS in the future.