Dell PCs at CES 2019 – Commercial Differentiation Via Technical Innovation

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  January 9, 2019

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas hosts thousands of vendors pitching new and improved products. But like a lot of what you see on The Strip, there’s less than meets the eye in many of these pronouncements. These range from trendy tchotchkes to dressing up fading products for one last go-around to bandwagon climbers hoping to make a buck on improbable new “trends” (remember 3D TVs?).

But CES also highlights its share of winners, including member companies that use the show to launch impressive new solutions, enhancements and innovations. This year, that list clearly includes Dell which was honored with nine CES 2019 Innovation Awards spanning its PC, workstation and display portfolios. The company also noted that it has secured two U.S. EPA awards for its recycling and Circular Gold initiatives.

Awards are always nice, but the fact is that Dell’s product innovations also set the company’s solutions apart from competitors’ efforts. Let’s take a closer look at some of Dell’s new and improved offerings to get a sense of how this process works.

Latitude 7400 2-in-1 – Killer design?

Late last week, Dell pre-announced the latest addition to its Latitude family of business notebooks, the new Latitude 7400 2-in-1. Some controversy emerged when a few commentators called the new system a “ThinkPad killer” – a reference to Lenovo’s line of enterprise-focused notebooks.

This issue of the Review includes a detailed commentary by Rob Enderle on the issue, so I won’t delve too deeply into it myself. But I will note that the deaths of iconic products tend to be slow-motion affairs triggered by significant changes in the market that established players ignore or avoid and that innovators anticipate and fully leverage. In other words, “killer” events depend as much on the victim’s cluelessness as they do competitors’ premeditation.

What does the Latitude 7400 2-in-1 include that makes some believe it fits into this category? In essence, near 24-hour battery life, biometric (facial recognition) security, a new hinge that allows the 2-in-1 to be opened single-handedly, high portability without compromising performance and some new esthetic points.

Looking a bit closer, the near-24 hours of battery life isn’t guaranteed. Instead, Rahul Tikoo, Dell’s VP of Commercial Mobility products, says the system “is designed for 24 hours of MobileMark ’14 run time on a single charge using the 78Whr battery option.” But even that is notable and will be of great interest to on the go businesspeople, as will Dell’s ExpressCharge which charges the battery up to 80 percent in just an hour.

The Latitude 7400 2-in-1’s facial recognition features are based on Intel’s Context Sensing technology, integrated with Microsoft’s Windows Hello. Basically, this enables what Dell calls Express Sign-In, so when the user sits in front of a system, it detects his/her presence, wakes up, scans for facial recognition and starts the Windows Hello login process. When a user leaves, the system recognizes their absence and locks itself to remain secure. That’s likely to be attractive to many executives and workers, particularly those who work in busy office settings and open cubicle environments.

Dell’s new “variable torque hinge” is an interesting bit of technology that the company demoed at a recent analyst event. The hinge keeps the 2-in-1 firmly closed yet it can be opened far more easily than typical notebooks, including single-handedly. Is it a “killer” technology? No, but it demonstrates a singular ‘elegance’ of engineering that has become a watchword of Dell products over the past decade or so. Other new features include a new Titan Gray machined aluminum finish, a reduced footprint (making the new Latitude the world’s smallest commercial 14-inch 2-in-1) and the presence of Dell’s ocean-bound plastics packaging (a first for Latitude products).

So, does the Latitude 7400 2-in-1 spell the end of the line for Lenovo’s venerable ThinkPad line? We’ll have to wait and see for the answer to that question. To its credit, Lenovo never lost a step with the ThinkPad brand after acquiring it from IBM in 2005, and ThinkPads continue to define “enterprise-class” laptops for thousands of satisfied customers.

At the same time, the past decade has seen Dell evolve from a volume producer of pedestrian notebooks and desktops to a leading vendor of eye-catching, technologically sophisticated business and consumer endpoints. The Latitude 7400 2-in-1’s remarkable battery life and facial recognition features are notable additions that are sure to appeal to many business customers.

If Lenovo can’t respond in short order, its customers will reasonably ask, “Why not?” When Dell sales personnel come to call with the new Latitude 7400 2-in-1, Lenovo customers may well answer, “Why, yes.”

XPS 13’s top-mounted webcam + Inspiron 7000 2-in-1’s Garage Hinge

Dell also added new features to its XPS and Inspiron lines. In the former case, the XPS 13 finally has a top-mounted webcam. That might not seem like a big deal, but the fact is that complaints about the webcam’s previous location (at the bottom left hand corner of the display) regularly appear in XPS 13 reviews. I personally feel the issue is minor, at best, but people’s fixations are what they are.

Problem was that the XPS 13 also boasts an Infinity Display that numerous other vendors eventually tried to emulate, with an ultra-thin bezel that was too thin to accommodate available webcam technologies. At CES 2019, Dell revealed that the latest XPS 13 incorporates a miniscule new 2.25-mm HD webcam located at the center-top of the display. The new system also leverages Intel’s latest 8th gen Core processors (meaning it remains the most powerful 13-inch laptop in its class), Dolby Vision video technology and a new frost anodized color option.

Dell also added design points to new 13-inch and 15-inch Inspiron 7000 2-in-1’s, including what the company calls a first of a kind “garage-in-the-hinge” that accommodates a Dell Active Pen included with the system. That’s a handy feature that should also make losing Active Pens (which cost around $50 each) less likely, meaning it offers both functional and financial benefits.

Inspiron 7000 2-in-1s also include what Dell calls Adaptive Thermal technology which enables the devices to automatically change their power profiles depending on their location. If a user has the 2-in-1 sitting on his/her lap to watch a movie or surf the Web, the system powers down to generate less heat. When it’s placed on a table or desk, it ramps up to full power and productivity.

Final analysis

These aren’t the only endpoint improvements that Dell announced at CES 2019. The company also made notable additions to its Dell Cinema solution that are designed to enhance sound clarity, color saturation and video streaming. Additionally, Dell added new functions and discussed future capabilities for its Mobile Connect software which enables integration between users’ smart phones and their PCs.

The new XPS 13 and Inspiron 2-in-1 features are well-designed additions that significantly enhance those portfolios and should appeal to many or most users. As such, they show how Dell is making significant, customer-focused improvements in its endpoint portfolios at the same time it is using the new Latitude 7400 2-in-1 to hone strategic efforts against competitors, like Lenovo.

These points are all to the good for Dell and its consumer and corporate customers. However, they also demonstrate how able, knowledgeable vendors can turn an internationally recognized event with tens of thousands of attendees to their advantage. Sure, countless vendors try to use CES to pawn off junk technology or announce fealty to trends whose value is mainly transparent. But in the announcements coming from Dell and a few others, conference attendees and watchers will find far more than meets the eye.

© 2019 Pund-IT, Inc. All rights reserved.

IBM’s Ginni Rometty at CES 2019 – Relying on “IBM Underneath”

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  January 9, 2019

The value of keynoting the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) can’t really be overestimated. That’s especially true for the opening session when the attentions of the event’s tens of thousands of attendees (over 182k at CES2018) and thousands of media members (6,600+ in 2018) haven’t been eroded by crowded conditions, noise pollution, sleep deprivation and the excesses of food and drink that Las Vegas depends on.

For years, Microsoft had first dibs on the opening keynote but since 2013 (the year after then-CEO Steve Ballmer decided to walk away from trade shows), CES’s opening keynote has rotated among executives with deep ties to and associations with consumer electronics. That is until this year, when IBM CEO Ginni Rometty took the stage following Consumer Electronics Association President Gary Shapiro’s “State of CES” speech.

Why IBM? That’s a good question since the company isn’t exactly a consumer name, having sold off its PC division in 2005 and exited its work in processors for gaming (where it once provided the silicon for Playstation, Nintendo and Xbox consoles) in 2009. Rometty acknowledged that point but noted that while consumers don’t know it, they rely on IBM “being underneath” a wide variety of services.

That’s an intriguing contention, and Rometty spent the rest of her keynote supporting her claim by detailing IBM’s pioneering advances in cloud and quantum computing, Watson artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain, among other areas. She also enjoyed able assistance from executives representing name brand consumer-facing enterprises, including Exxon Mobile and Walmart.

Let’s take a closer look at Rometty’s keynote, as well as the value IBM brings to the table by being the power “underneath” consumer, home and workplace technologies, products and services.

The end of independent personal computing

CES 2019 is occurring at an interesting time for the consumer electronics and technology industries. At one level, consumer products from kitchen appliances to automobiles have never been “smarter” in the sense of being integrated with and enhanced by digital intelligence. But at the same time, those intelligence features have become increasingly abstracted from the devices themselves.

Consider the natural differences between 1990s PCs and today’s desktop and notebook systems – not in terms of computational power and performance but simply as devices. Originally, PCs were essentially independent in the sense of running programs and performing tasks without the assistance of other devices. That was also mostly true for networked PCs in offices and other workplaces.

The commercial Internet changed that, along with consumer email, peripheral devices, and other products. But the appearance of smart phones and mobility-enabled features increased the speed of the transition away from independence by orders of magnitude, as did cloud-based services, including automated back-up for image, music and video files. Lightweight apps that have a fraction of the footprint and offer fractions of the capabilities if traditional software were another critical factor.

In other words, personal computing today is mostly about accessing external services, not running powerful applications. Just as importantly, the infrastructure supporting those services is essentially invisible, supported by systems housed in data centers located scores or hundreds of miles away from end users. So long as those systems are up and running, life is a dream. But if or when things go south, as they occasionally do, all hell breaks loose.

Many people understand this and most associate these scenarios with cloud services from companies, including Amazon, Google and Microsoft. But what about the businesses that consumers depend on, and essential online services for consumers’ banking, shopping, travel and financial services needs? That’s what IBM “underneath” is all about.

The value of IBM underneath

As I noted, Rometty’s keynote was enhanced by testimonials from executives from brand name companies. IBM has long partnered with ExxonMobile on a range of initiatives and services. For example, IBM Cloud provides the foundation for the company’s Speedpass+, a personalization service that enables customers to pay for gas and car washes with their mobile devices.

During Rometty’s keynote, Vijay Swarup, VP of R&D for ExxonMobil, discussed the company’s decision to sign an agreement with IBM to advance the use of quantum computing in developing next-generation energy and manufacturing technologies. By doing so, ExxonMobil will be the first energy company to join the IBM Q Network, a global community working to advance quantum computing and explore practical applications for science and business.

Quantum computing could help ExxonMobil address computationally challenging problems across areas, including optimizing power grids, performing more predictive environmental modeling and discovering new materials for efficient carbon capture. According to Swarup, “Quantum computing can potentially provide us with capabilities to simulate nature and chemistry that we’ve never had before.”

Charles Redfield, EVP of food for Walmart U.S., discussed the work the company is doing through Food Trust, an IBM initiative that focuses on using the company’s blockchain technology to transparently ensure food freshness and safety. The effort has attracted about 50 enterprises, including Walmart, Carrefour and Kroger that share data about where they are sourcing and shipping fresh produce and other products.

As a result, if a safety issue arises (like the recent E. coli outbreak involving romaine lettuce), Food Trust members can more effectively identify and track potentially unsafe products and remove them before consumers are affected. For example, it used to take Walmart up to a week to track a package of mangoes back to its point of origin. Today, Food Trust’s IBM blockchain system allows Walmart to perform that same process in 2.2 seconds.

Final analysis

ExxonMobile and Walmart provided just two of the highlights in IBM’s maiden CES keynote. Along with illuminating how IBM’s development efforts and technological innovations are helping their own companies, Swarup and Redfield also underscored Ginni Rometty’s statement about the critical value IBM offers and will continue to deliver to global consumers.

Rometty’s address was a refreshing departure for a conference that, in past years, has too often been a megaphone for trumpeting vapid trends and short-lived products. Rather, she spent her time on the CES stage detailing how consumer electronics, like many other industries is on the cusp of fundamental changes enabled by new, foundational infrastructure technologies.

By showing what IBM is accomplishing with its enterprise customers today, Ginni Rometty offered CES attendees a look at the benefits they can expect to see and enjoy in the near future.

© 2019 Pund-IT, Inc. All rights reserved.

Intel Architecture Day: Manufacturing, IP, Integration to Drive Next Gen Markets and Opportunities

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  December 19, 2018

The IT industry’s big love for new products and achievements is well-documented, but like any obsession, it occasionally turns pathological. That’s especially true regarding the assumed superiority of emerging technologies over well-established products and services.

Oft times, these breathy claims carry more than a hint of compromise. Leading companies, including IBM, Cisco, Oracle, Dell and many others have also been depicted as circling the drain due to innovations from plucky upstarts. Heck, IBM’s mainframe business has supposedly been on the verge of collapse for over a quarter century. Instead, despite some hiccups and with a few adjustments, these vendors continue to motor along driving billions of dollars in revenues and profits.

A similar dynamic has been in-play around Intel, with critics claiming that the company’s various challenges and the rise of innovative new silicon vendors and products signal an imminent wider collapse. Instead, most of those vaunted innovations have faltered or failed while Intel continues to lead its sector and target markets, reliably delivering superior solutions and solid-to-stellar financial results.

That doesn’t mean the company has done everything right or is idling along like an overly-entitled cruise ship. The words of former CEO Andy Grove – “Only the paranoid survive.” – are baked into Intel’s DNA and followed by its leadership and board. So, it was hardly surprising that the company used its recent Architecture Day event to discuss developments and strategies it will pursue during the upcoming decade of “data-intensive” computing.

Six strategic pillars

During the event, Intel detailed half a dozen “strategic pillars” it will rely on to continue its technical leadership and capture business in emerging “data intensive” markets and use cases, including next gen PCs and consumer devices, high speed networks, ubiquitous artificial intelligence, specialized cloud computing and autonomous vehicles. The six pillars are:

  1. Process: Emphasizing Intel’s manufacturing innovations, including demonstrating the new “Sunny Cove” 10nm CPU architecture and “Foveros” its “industry first” 3D packaging technology which is designed to allow products to be broken up into smaller “chiplets” that can be organized and connected to enhance specific features and performance.
  2. Architecture: Rather than focusing largely on its traditional IA scalar architecture, Intel envisions a future where diverse scalar, vector, matrix and spatial architectures are deployed in CPU, GPU, accelerator and FPGA sockets as needed. In turn, these architectures will be uniformly supported via a unified scalable software stack and integrated with Intel’s advanced packaging technologies.
  3. Memory: Given the growing demand for high-capacity, high-speed storage, Intel believes its Optane technology will enable it to uniquely fill gaps in the memory hierarchy and provide enhanced bandwidth closer to the silicon die.
  4. Interconnect: The company plans to offer a complete line of scalable offerings from silicon-level package and die interconnects to 5G infrastructure solutions.
  5. Security: Intel believes it has the necessary components to build a “better together” strategy that improves end-to-end security.
  6. Software: According to Intel, for every order of magnitude performance improvement enabled by hardware, software can enable two orders of magnitude improvements. Among other efforts, the company is planning a common set of tools for developers, including a “One API” project designed to simplify programming across diverse CPU, GPOU, FPGA, AI and other accelerators.

Manufacturing as a differentiator

Not surprisingly, these six strategic pillars emphasize Intel’s longstanding leadership in semiconductor manufacturing and its continuing investments in new and emerging technologies. This former point is worth emphasizing, especially since most of Intel’s core competitors have replaced their own silicon production with third parties, like TMSC and GlobalFoundries.

That makes financial sense, at least in the short term. After all, building and supporting a chip fab is always complex and costly, especially as semiconductors become ever smaller and older 200mm and below wafers are replaced by current state-of-the-art 300mm wafers. Given the ongoing funding requirements, signing-up with third party fabs seems eminently prudent.

But it also opens the door to unexpected challenges if foundry partners falter or succumb to problems of their own or are impacted by external events, like natural disasters or global trade disputes. Interestingly, a few days after Architecture Day, a blog post by Dr. Ann Kelleher SVP and GM of Intel’s Manufacturing and Operations organization, detailed how the company is investing in expanding its 14nm manufacturing capacity to increase supply.

Kelleher also noted that Intel is in early planning stages to expand its global manufacturing facilities in Oregon, Ireland and Israel, and will also continue its two-decades-long strategic use of foundry partners for specific technologies. With what has been estimated to be a $300B total addressable market for silicon solutions, Intel is doing all it can to ensure that it can and will reliably meet future customers’ demands.

Final analysis

Good enough. So, the strategic vision and practical steps Intel discussed during its Architecture Day proceedings show the company well-positioned to take full advantage of current and future opportunities, right? Mostly, yes, but there are also some lines that need further definition and coloring-in.

For example, though its security strategy is intriguing, there could be devils lurking in the details. Security is a notably tough nut to crack for IT vendors and more strategic security initiatives fail than succeed. Those include Intel’s 2010 $7.7B acquisition of McAfee which never produced hoped-for synergies, leading to the company selling its McAfee assets TPG for $3.1B in 2016. How Intel delivers on its “better together” security vision should be interesting but it will also be closely scrutinized.

Another point: Though Intel’s Optane memory technology has been promising, computer memory is a notoriously volatile business. In fact, some knowledgeable analysts (including Jim Handy of Objective Analysis), are anticipating a collapse of DRAM prices in 2019. Should that occur, it could result in significant losses for Optane (which is priced to be competitive with DRAM). Intel’s steady profitability would help minimize the pain but no one wants to incur significant losses.

Those points aside, Intel’s Architecture Day provided notable insights into the company’s ongoing efforts and upcoming plans that should cancel out rote disparagement from critics and competitors. Of particular interest were the demos of the upcoming Foveros 3D packaging technology and Sunny Cove CPU architecture. If those innovations deliver what Intel suggests, the future will continue to be bright for the company’s Core and Xeon portfolios.

Along with Foveros, the One API software project should be of particular interest to Intel’s OEM and other customers. People tend to forget that IT and consumer electronics vendors whose solutions depend on third party chips and other components are always in the hunt for ways to lower costs and improve efficiencies. Using Foveros to effectively mix/match chiplet blocks should pave the way to enhanced new silicon solutions, as will reducing the complexity of developing software for diverse computing engines.

Overall, Intel’s Architecture Day clearly highlighted the ways in which the company is anticipating and preparing for the future. But it also revealed that far from passively waiting for that time to arrive, Intel is actively working to make the future it envisions into a reality.

© 2018 Pund-IT, Inc. All rights reserved.

Dell EMC’s OEM Solutions: New Leadership + Evolving Strategy = Continuing Success

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  December 3, 2018

Leadership changes can be challenging for business organizations, particularly when the executives being replaced have enjoyed notable success. Those can be tough acts to follow, but by choosing the right people and implementing the right processes, the affected organizations and its people can continue their upward trajectory. The Dell Technologies Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM) and Internet of Things (IoT) Solutions group is a great example of how this dynamic can work well. Continue reading

Dell Technologies – An Enterprise Vendor in Full

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  November 28, 2018

Does massive, ground-shifting change ever happen in an instant? Sure, at least enough to inspire songs, films and best-selling books. But more often, significant, fundamental changes require careful planning and steady, dedicated execution. It isn’t that love at first sight is a fiction – more that, along with a modicum of luck, reaching your Golden Wedding Anniversary requires a different sort of thought process and action.

The results of that approach to long term strategy were clear at Dell’s recent Analyst Summit in Chicago. The event and 200+ global analysts were a far cry from the modest analyst meeting Michael Dell hosted in 2007, a few months after he returned to Dell’s CEO position. At that time, his central pitch focused on “Dell 2.0” – a concept hinging on Dell’s planned transformation into an enterprise-class vendor of desktop-to-data center IT solutions.

The company arguably achieved that pinnacle with its blockbuster purchase of EMC just over two years ago but integrating so large and complex an acquisition takes time. Plus, it presents a greater question: Where does a fully-formed, fully-enabled Dell Technologies go from here? In Chicago, Michael Dell, his executive team and enthusiastic partners and customers, including Mastercard and Carnival, offered cogent answers and a clear vision of a future centered on Unlocking the Power of Data. Continue reading

Updating a Classic: Dell’s New XPS 15 2-in-1

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  November 14 2018

There are two ways to screw-up classic or iconic products. First, a vendor can treat the device with the softest of kid gloves, timidly avoiding changes to the point that the thing loses its allure and drifts in irrelevance. Alternatively, a maker can confuse needed changes with ephemeral trends, eventually obscuring whatever made the product great in the first place.

Then there are vendors that handle the process seamlessly, somehow managing to maintain iconic elements while keeping great products scrupulously contemporary and up-to-date. With that in mind, let’s look at Dell’s new XPS 15 2-in-1, a laptop that extends the company’s classic XPS with compelling new aesthetic and technical features. Continue reading

Pund-IT Spotlight Interview: IBM’s Andy Walls

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  November 13, 2018

Data storage has an odd position within the IT continuum. Though widely recognized for the critical roles they play in computing infrastructures of every kind and size, storage solutions tend to receive less public attention than microprocessor and memory technologies. That is a serious oversight, especially when one considers how important storage is in crucial new use cases and workloads, including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, Big Data, advanced analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT).

In the following interview, Andy Walls, the CTO and chief architect of IBM’s Flash Systems storage organization, provides insights into how these and other developments fit into the current state of enterprise storage and IBM’s efforts. Walls is particularly well suited to that task since his remarkable 3+ decade-long IBM career spans key evolutions in modern enterprise storage, many of which were sparked or extended by his own achievements.

In 2014, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty named Walls an IBM Fellow, the company’s highest recognition for its technical leaders. In his statement, Walls noted that when hiring, “I look for people who don’t limit themselves. They have confidence in their abilities. They know they can do more than it appears. In my experience, there are the critics and there are the solvers. I don’t want to hire critics.” He couldn’t have described himself and his work any more clearly. Continue reading

Lenovo DCG: New Solutions for Modern SMBs and ROBOs

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  November 7, 2018

An interesting if little discussed sidelight on technology is how a rapidly maturing industry successfully serves increasingly sophisticated customers. This issue is present in numerous sectors and product classes, from automobiles to zippers. However, while the dynamic is clearly apparent in business-to-consumer (B2C) markets, it’s also a significant factor in business-to-business scenarios.

Why is that the case? Because like consumers, over time businesses have ready access to and become increasingly savvy about products and services they utilize. Consider how that has played out in IT over just the past decade or so with organizations rapidly transitioning from “bricks” to “clicks” business models leveraging IT resources. Not to mention companies adopting public cloud solutions, adapting to often opaque online advertising and contending with social media-enabled customers and ratings.

While scale is an obviously important point to consider here, these changes are impacting businesses of every kind and size. In other words, even small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) and use cases with relatively modest or specialized needs, such as remote and branch offices (ROBOs) require dependable, innovative computing solutions. Plus, they are also smarter and more demanding about what they buy today than ever before.

Those points are important to keep in mind when considering IT offerings, like Lenovo’s new single socket servers for SMBs and ROBOs. Continue reading

IBM Power Systems – The Road to Computational Longevity

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  November 7, 2018

Longevity is a trait seldom celebrated and less often achieved in IT. The former point is hardly surprising given the tech industry’s obsession with shiny new things. But the latter highlights how seldom even good solutions keep step with evolving technical trends and requirements, then lose the confidence of enterprise customers.

So how do long-lived technologies get and stay that way? By being innovative, dependable and adaptable, as the continuing success of IBM’s Power Systems attests. Since their introduction over two decades ago, Power Systems have been notable for their dynamic flexibility, resiliency and performance. Those characteristics made IBM Power solutions ideal for data-intensive workloads, including enterprise databases and associated applications.

They are also making IBM Power the platform of choice for newer and emerging use cases, such as in-memory databases, private cloud infrastructures and artificial intelligence (AI) deployments. In fact, those three areas helped Power Systems achieve 17% year over year (YoY) sales growth in IBM’s most recent (Q3 2018) quarter. How has IBM Power gotten from there to here? That’s a subject worth further discussion. Continue reading

IBM and Red Hat – A Match Made for Hybrid Cloud

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  October 31, 2018

That barn buster acquisitions are more common in IT than other industries says as much about the dynamism of the tech sector as it does about specific business circumstances. The fact is that most IT vendors are constantly on the hunt for a competitive edge, and in an industry that changes as rapidly as tech, acquiring external assets often delivers a bigger bang for the buck faster than internal development efforts.

That said, simply buying another company is anything but a slam dunk, even for large, well-funded deals. Critical issues can aid acquisitions from the get-go or contribute to eventual massive failures, like HP’s costly acquisitions of Compaq and EDS. The best deals are those in which the involved companies are well-aligned technologically, strategically and culturally.

IBM’s plan to acquire Linux and open source leader Red Hat for $190 per share ($34B in total value) qualifies as just that sort of plan. Let’s consider what makes a successful IT acquisition and why IBM and Red Hat seem likely to make their pairing work. Continue reading