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Eyeing the future

Tom Kendra, VP and GM, Systems Management Software, Dell Software Group, talks about how the company is sorting through all the software it has acquired and efforts to become a more profitable, software- and services-driven company.

How does Dell plan to change its perception in the market as a PC company and become a software-and services-driven company?
We are more than a PC company, our customers and partners demand it of us, so we have to be. We’ve got a very robust server business, we’ve got a storage business, we’ve got a networking business, we have acquired services businesses. In April 2012, we added the next piece of the strategy—Dell Software Group.
If you’re a CIO and you can get more of your solution components from a single provider, like Dell, it will give you more of a sense of security. CIOs want to minimise procurement costs within the company, why would they want to deal with more companies than is necessary? They want to know who to talk to in the event of something going wrong.
What differentiates Dell is the support it offers of its products. Every single customer we’ve met with over the last few days in the Middle East has mentioned the quality of our support.
We aim to take storage, servers and the network, and put the whole thing together. That’s what Dell Software Group is all about.

Dell has acquired many companies in the recent past including Quest, Soniwall and Wyse. How do you plan to organise all these into a coherent offering?
The structure has Quest and Sonicwall and a number of our other acquisitions including Kace, AppAssure and Boomi, who does cloud integration. All of these companies are part of the Dell Software Group.
There’s also Wyse, which is a very important technology around virtual desktop infrastructure and thin client, and it actually reports into our end user computing group. Between Dell Software Group and the end user computing group there’s a very tight collaborative and synergistic relationship.
There are three major groups within Dell Software Group. One is focused on business intelligence and data management, they solve problems like Big Data and the accessibility of data warehousing for midmarket size customers.

What impact has Michael Dell’s battle to take the company private had on your efforts to build its software business?
Michael Dell’s decision to take the company private can only be viewed as a positive one. We will continue to expand and make acquisitions, and the decision will only serve to increase our ability to innovate and progress quicker.

What is Dell’s applications strategy?

Applications was one of the four focus areas you talked about last year, along with systems management, security and data analytics. We want to look into an application and say, where was the problem? With which web server? Which data base? Then, once we’ve found the source of the problem the most important thing is to fix it and ensure it doesn’t occur again. If a consumer gets stuck half way through a transaction and they’re not sure of the next step, or, in a worst case scenario they are brought to a halt, they’re not going to be happy. From a consumer’s point of view it’s all about having the best experience you can. If you’re working internally it’s all about productivity and being able to serve customers better.

Is small and medium-sized enterprise a focus area Kendra_Tom for the company?
The SMB market is a huge one for us. As Dell was growing, it was always mindful of SMBs as things you can learn here are also often applicable to larger companies. People want products that are intuitive, easy-to-use, scalable and deliver value quickly; all things that a larger company also wants. Nobody wants the most complex product available, no one wants to struggle for a long time to get anything up-and-running and for it to return value.

People have talked about Quest as the glue that binds your other software acquisitions together. How do you view Quest?
Quest was a very important acquisition for a number of reasons. They had great products, great technology, great people, and great systems. You need systems that allow software to be co-terminus, you need to think about ways of billing, maybe selling software on a subscription basis. Quest had very advanced systems for this, and has become the foundation of much of the systems work we’re doing. //

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