The long-awaited Dell-EMC mega-merger has finally completed, transforming the newly branded Dell Technologies into the largest privately held technology company in the world. But what, if anything, will this mean for existing Dell and EMC customers in the UK?
During a press and analyst webcast yesterday, CEO Michael Dell stressed much of the same talking points from his speech at EMC World earlier this year. With the oncoming wave of automation, machine learning and the internet of things, Dell wants to position itself as the de facto choice for providing the structural backbone to this new networked infrastructure.
Speaking with Computerworld UK, Ross Fraser, head of EMC UK, insists that the immediate plan is as little operational change to customers as possible – but with the option of an extended portfolio, as EMC is folded into the wider business.
“The objective is to have very minimal impact on our customers,” Fraser says. “What we’d hope is that we keep continuity as far as we can for building the touchpoints – hopefully what they’ll see is the benefit of a broader portfolio and capability from Dell EMC and the associated companies. It’s a massive cross-sale opportunity for us.”
There will of course be some necessary practical changes the newly created giant will have to undertake.
“There are announcements to follow in exactly how it will be organised and who will be doing what role,” says Tim Griffin, head of Dell UK. “In the intervening period between now and the start of our new financial year, Ross and I will continue in our existing roles, with a new-found partner, as it were, with great ambition to collaborate and cross-sell into the opportunity.”
In the short term, the two organisations will be commuting between offices, and there will be an effort for staff at both Dell and EMC to establish relations with each other and also their respective customers.
Mergers, however, are often a worry for the workforce – will jobs be safe?
“Our ambition is to ensure we deliver a consistent service to our customers and at this point in time there are no plans to change that, in terms of our personnel,” says Griffin. “The priority for both Ross and I is to ensure the 4,000 plus people in Dell go through this transformation and stay focused, as we finish off the year and get ourselves organised for success next year.”
However, Jacques Boschung, SVP & GM Europe West at EMC, tells Computerworld UK that job cuts in some areas of the business “can’t be ruled out”.
"In the go-to-market space we are extremely complementary, in services and the product division we are extremely complementary,” Boschung says. “But then there are some back-office things that may see some transformation. I am not ruling that out. I am ruling out massive impact for field countries like the UK, Germany or Switzerland.”
But from the customer’s point of view, Griffin says, there’s an awareness that the customers won’t want to feel the effects of too much change.
“The number one thing is customer satisfaction,” Fraser agrees. “The last thing we want to do is start moving people about and breaking relationships that have been about for a long time.”
As far as the product roadmap is concerned, both Fraser and Griffin say that all existing products will continue to be supported. However it’s probably fair to say that further down the line, the merged company will refocus and trim down its portfolio slightly to offer the best of breed across all the companies.
What is particularly of interest is the possibilities of converged and hyperconverged systems with the addition of Dell servers.
“We are really looking forward to having the Dell server technology within the hyperconverged offerings we’ve got,” says Fraser. “We’ll have VxRack hyperconverged offerings with Dell options, going forward, which will be great – allowing us to run and compete more effectively in open source.
“We have clearly been very strong in the VMware world given that’s one of the family, but equally we want to make sure we can compete in the other strands of the commodity market place and open source projects.”
EMC’s Boschung says in terms of converged, the expectation is for Dell servers to be added to the current VCE product portfolio, such as its UCS-based vBlock. “One of our largest service providers was telling us they want to see Dell servers as soon as possible in the converged infrastructure portfolio,” he explains. “vBlock will stay the way it is because that’s the way it’s settled with Cisco, and we’ve signed the partnership for the coming years with Cisco.
“But we are launching permanently new products. VxRack is hyperconverged, which is currently based on Quanta servers. They are under pressure. It will increase our procurement power.”
All in all, the messages Dell Technologies are pushing are of continuity for customers, analyst backing bolstered by high approval ratings from both Gartner and IDC, and a commitment to a $4.5bn R&D spend underpinning the lot.
If things really are as rosy as Dell Technologies insists, what would all of this spell for traditional market rival HP, now split into its consumer division and Hewlett Packard Enterprise?
Perhaps it’s unsurprising that Fraser and Griffin don’t shy away from making a point of Dell’s apparent market position – CEO Michael Dell himself has been keen to get a dig in recently too.
“Just look at some of the numbers,” Fraser says. “We are going to put $4.5 billion in R&D, and that will turn out to be 25 percent of HP’s revenues. When you’ve got that kind of commitment to innovation and R&D and taking forward the product line, even though we’re number one at the moment, that is going to position us pretty strongly in that marketplace.”