Dell's EMEA Solutions Conference in Vienna this year fell at a pivotal juncture in the company's history. The announcement of the biggest deal in IT history was made just weeks before, and the thoughts of journalists, analysts and partners at the event centred on what the takeover will mean for the future path of the US giant.
But during keynote addresses, execs were largely silent on the EMC-shaped elephant in the room and instead spoke up about the strength and ambitions of Dell's current business. Particular focus was placed on plans for supremacy in both the server and client space.
In Vienna, CRN chatted to Aongus Hegarty (pictured), Dell's EMEA president, about the company's strategy, the channel and how 2015 has been for the IT world.
Given the economic background, has 2015 been a challenging year for the channel?
The economic background hasn't been bad. The challenge has been more around technology refresh and compares. Some people look at this year compared with last year; PC refresh cycle, Windows 2003 server refresh - the compares there are more challenging. Then when you also take currency from a dollar perspective, in the cost of technology, they are two very specific [factors] to our industry.
It has been a challenging year on a market level on technology and technology spend. We have been taking significant market share, so we have offset the fact the market has not been that strong.
During the conference keynotes, there was talk about how Dell wants to be a leader in the x86 server market and client space. When do you think this could happen by?
We are close [to being number one] in many markets in x86. We are number one in China, in France we are very close to being number one, and at the moment we are number two globally with a small gap, which over the past two years has been narrowing here in Europe.
It can never be soon enough. At the pace we are on at the moment, we should narrow the gap on HP over the next two years or so. We have been narrowing it strongly over the past two years, and Lenovo, to be honest, is really struggling.
Some 70 per cent of Dell's enterprise business goes through the channel and 50 per cent overall in EMEA. Could other segments of Dell's business catch up with enterprise?
We definitely see SMB [moving] at a higher percentage. I could see over the next few years, SMB being at 70 per cent overall. Our go-to-market strategy, and what we are doing with investment and from a coverage point of view with our partners is across the spectrum, but [there is a] significant focus around SMB.
From a partner perspective, what do you think will be the biggest benefit of the EMC/VMware deal?
If you assume the acquisition is completed, you are talking about being able to deal with one company with a breadth of technology, solutions and capability much broader than the breadth Dell has today. So for partners that are working with one of those two companies in a particular area of technology, there is a lot of opportunity to broaden out the set of products and technology, bringing storage and compute much closer together.
Over the past eight years we have added more partners and expanded wallet share. Part of that has been growing the business through investment but also it has been the portfolio broadening. With the acquisition the portfolio broadens too, so that trend continues but just at another significant injection of pace.
There has been concern among some VMware partners over investment following the takeover. Are you still going to drive innovation into VMware?
I can't comment specifically on VMware, but let me give you the track record of Dell. If you go back three years, Michael [Dell] announced he was taking the company private, and we went through a period of six or nine months of the deal being finalised, when there was a lot of speculation of ‘debt, what will they do?
They won't invest, they won't innovate, they won't expand'. What we've done is absolutely the direct opposite to all those comments. We've innovated, expanded and invested. I believe you will see that track record continue, whether it's in what we announced two weeks ago, or what we do, because that's our philosophy.
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