Looking to regain its lost momentum, Dell announced on Thursday Project Hybrid, a revamped strategy for selling its products to enterprises.
[ See slideshow: Dell announces Project Hybrid ]
It is no secret that both Hewlett-Packard and IBM have gained ground and in some markets overtaken Dell in sales to the enterprise sector. That situation coupled with the fact that Dell receives 85 percent of its revenue from business users rather than consumers, according to Kevin Kettler, Dell CTO, appears to be the driving force behind Dell's new approach to its enterprise customers.
Although there were scant product details, from a strategic level, Dell appears to be heading in two directions simultaneously. It will offer professional services that compete with HP and IBM while at the same time trying to reinvigorate the direct sales model by simplifying the purchasing process.
As enterprise needs grow more complex and require more face time with a manufacturer, the direct sales model, which gives buyers the ability to shop, click, and buy products but is short on pre-purchasing technical support, is perhaps falling into disfavor. Dell hopes to simplify the purchasing process by selling what it calls complete "solutions" rather than selling boxes. As an example, Kettler spoke of pre-configured hardware optimized for virtualization.
Project Hybrid will combine new software, services, and system architecture to address specific enterprise needs, such as infrastructure capacity problems.
The two issues for the enterprise, according to Jay Parker, director, PowerEdge Servers at Dell, is how to squeeze more computing power out of a data center without investing in new facilities and how to reduce complexity.
"Companies can't afford to build a new data center. They need to get more density from the same data center," said Parker.
At the same time, IT resources are either static or shrinking, Parker said, while CIOs want to be sure that IT can add business value to an enterprise.
To that end, Dell will simplify deployments of hardware in the data center.
"HP and IBM offer either vaporware or expensive solutions that take an army of consultants to implement," said Parker.
Although Parker and his fellow presenter Kettler were long on big picture goals there were few details.
"We will optimize server products for particular environments," was about as detailed as Kettler got.
Among the specifics that were discussed was the promise to optimize hardware for virtualization, but how that would be accomplished was put off to a future discussion.
Energy efficiency was also discussed but at a high level only with the promise that Dell products would be 10 percent to 15 percent more efficient than its competitors. Kettler added that a software component would be embedded in systems to improve energy efficiency.
However, despite the high level discussion, there was also a show and tell portion of the news conference with a number of new products.