Dell’s Armughan Ahmad, networking VP, said in an interview with me last week that the firm’s recently-announced Virtual Network Architecture is the third wave of networking: what he describes as the culmination of integrated servers, storage and networking.
It’s a theme that has been peddled by Cisco with its Unified Computing System (UCS), by IBM with its PureSystems and HP’s Converged Infrastructure. Hitachi Data Systems has a Hitachi Unified Compute Platform too. Oracle is all about full systems since the acquisition of Sun Microsystems.
Dell, of course, also needed to draw on acquisitions to give itself the pieces of the puzzle it needed. Hence its acquisitions of Compellent and EqualLogic (storage), Force 10 (networking), Clerity (application modernisation), Sonicwall (security), Wyse (thin clients) and of course Perot Systems (IT services).
Its most recent acquisition, that of Quest Software for $2.4bn, could just give it the over-arching management layer to tie all of the pieces together. That’s the theory, anyway.
Ahmad also noted that Dell’s network management smarts, OpenManage Networking Manager (OMNM) 5.0. offers a new look and support for the full line of Dell networking products, including the acquired Force10 portfolio.
According to Ahmad, the firm’s repositioning as an enterprise player is finding some traction – over 25% of the firm’s revenue now comes from enterprise IT, he said.
But while the firm talks about convergence, its numbers suggest it isn’t out of the woods yet, as more consumers switch from PCs to mobile devices like the iPad. In its latest quarter, Dell announced revenue down 4% to $14.4bn, below the average analyst estimate of $14.9bn. Net income fell to $635m, or 36 cents a share, from $945m, or 49 cents a share, a year earlier.
But Ahmad said it’s integrated its acquisitions smoothly, evidence including the fact that it has won 590 new customers for the Force10 networking gear since it acquired it.
The future of enterprise IT probably does lie in converged stacks, whether that ends up being a private cloud or sitting in someone else’s data centre in the cloud. But integrating numerous acquisitions is often easier said than done, and Dell has plenty of integration work ahead.