Dell Technologies – 20+ Years of OEM Innovation

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  December 1, 2021

As I’ve written before, though the concept of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) is deeply embedded in tech industry and culture, most people focus on the OEM relationships between large hardware vendors and their component partners or between commercial ISVs and PC makers. Those interactions are akin to OEM interdependencies in every other manufacturing sector. For example, specialist subcontractors contribute everything from light bulbs, wire harnesses, paint and interior appointments to the cars and trucks that roll off automaker assembly lines.

But there is another less recognized and understood OEM dynamic where system vendors provide the digital brain power for a wide variety of compute-enabled devices. These solutions range from products utilizing relatively simple embedded PC components that never see the light of day to full-fledged systems and appliances that are sold under the OEM customer’s name and brand.

Dell Technologies has been proactively involved in this latter form of business since 2000, and Dell’s Kyle Dufresne, Global SVP and GM of the company’s OEM Solutions, recently blogged about reaching this milestone. Let’s consider Dell’s OEM efforts and what they mean to the company’s partners and customers.

The Dell OEM difference

Though many IT vendors pursue OEM markets and partnerships, the duration of Dell’s efforts and its continuing evolution set it apart from most vendors. In addition, some fundamental points and goals have contributed to the longevity and success of the company’s program. As Kyle Dufresne wrote, Dell’s OEM Solutions division was formed to meet “demand for hardware that didn’t yet exist” that was “specialized to meet the requirements of projects that (customers) had in the works.”

In 2000, many companies used onboard compute features for standalone products like commercial video game machines, while others expanded on network or internet connectivity, including third party automatic teller machines (ATMs). Dufresne noted that OEM customers also seek industrial-grade solutions able to withstand harsh environmental conditions and to be capable of functioning in remote, offshore locations. To that end, Dell began by “adding some extra battery life here, ruggedizing a server there, creating unique and custom-made solutions for every customer.”

What began as a supportive response to ad hoc requests from Dell’s customers has grown into a substantial multi-billion-dollar business serving the needs of clients in over 40 vertical global industries. Dell’s OEM Solutions division employs more than 700 professionals who help develop, customize, design, industrialize, transform and innovate solutions that meet the essential requirements of customers in verticals, including healthcare, telco, transportation, manufacturing and public infrastructure. In addition, the company is helping customers in emerging areas and use cases, such as 5G network development, testing and deployment.

Emphasizing Dell’s “do-anything-from-anywhere-world” strategy, the OEM Solutions division also offers customers a wide range of management and support services, as well as a specialized channel partner program. Is it any wonder that during the first half of the current fiscal year, Dell OEM Solutions increased its new customer accounts by 32 percent compared to the same period during the previous fiscal year?

Dell’s OEM customers

What sorts of companies work with Dell OEM Solutions to develop new and leading-edge products? Here are two recent customer examples to consider:

  1. Konica Minolta, a Japanese multinational operating in 150 countries, is finding synergies between its decades of optics and imaging experience and emerging technologies, including AI. One of its focus areas is enhancing traditional digital imaging processes, such as conventional X-rays for use in applications where physical motion can contribute to accurate diagnosis. To that end, Konica Minolta developed a recording system and software called “Kinosis” which takes a series of X-ray images at high speed and low radiation to produce cine loop sequences that enable clinicians to see the dynamic motion of anatomical structures, such as the movement of lung tissue.

To launch Kinosis commercially, the company needed a platform that would meet the high reliability and compliance standards healthcare solutions require, and also connect seamlessly to legacy X-ray and picture archiving and communications systems (PACS). Konica Minolta’s longstanding relationship with Dell led to a natural alliance with the OEM Solutions division and resulted in Kinosis offerings that run on Dell’s Precision workstations.

Along with providing the hardware foundation for Kinosis, Dell OEM Solutions also loads Konica Minolta’s OS and BIOS software onto systems at the factory, manages software updates and provides global support services. As a result of its partnership with Dell OEM Solutions, Konica Minolta’s Kinosis solutions have allowed hospitals and clinicians to effectively and cost effectively enhance diagnosis processes and patient outcomes.

  1. VIAVI develops and delivers virtual testing, measurement and assurance solutions for global telecommunications vendors and network operators. Among those offerings is the company’s TeraVM 5G, a core emulator that enables customers to validate next generation products and scenarios. Those are vital processes when it comes to 5G, a fifth-generation high performance technology that promises to fundamentally transform wireless services and solutions. As Amit Malhotra, VP for programs at VIAVI Solutions noted, “5G isn’t just about smartphones, tablets or consumer devices. It will ultimately enable connections with anything that has a chip in it. That requires a huge scale-up by telcos and network operators to support limitless endpoints.”

VIAVI partnered with Dell OEM Solutions to develop TeraVM into an emulation and security performance solution that network manufacturers and operators can use to stress test radio access networks with tens of thousands of base stations and millions of end-user devices under real-world conditions. A virtualized solution that can be deployed anywhere—in labs, data centers or cloud infrastructures—TeraVM runs on Dell EMC PowerEdge R740XL servers that can emulate millions of end-user devices and other endpoints and scale up to 1 Tbit/s of simulated network traffic.

Along with providing the core platform to support TeraVM, Dell OEM Solutions also works closely with VIAVI to integrate its custom designed field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) into PowerEdge systems. As a result of its partnership with Dell, VIAVI has been able to satisfy the requirements of customers developing myriad 5G-focused solutions, including high speed wireless replacements for traditional cable services, mobile services for smart phones and the world’s first 100 percent cloud-native mobile network.

Final analysis

The long-term success and growth of Dell’s OEM Solutions division and business can be considered from numerous perspectives. At one level, it demonstrates how vendors can generally create new value and solutions with the help of strategic partners. In another, it highlights the specific efforts of a company that is particularly skilled in identifying and pursuing opportunities in burgeoning commercial markets.

But a clear point is how purely adaptable the Dell OEM Solutions organization is in both technological and practical terms. In part, this reflects the sheer variety of Dell’s solutions and services portfolios, and the company’s development of sustainable new offerings for hundreds of discrete global markets. But more fundamentally, the OEM Solutions division provides a microcosm of Dell’s continuing focus on meeting the unique requirements of tens of millions of global business customers, which has never been more important as the future of business computing is unfolding at the edge.

This enduring effort to address customers’ vital needs resulted in two decades of growth for Dell’s OEM Solutions division and is likely to lead to many more years of success.

© 2021 Pund-IT®. All rights reserved.

Pund-IT Executive Spotlight – Tom Rosamilia, Senior Vice President, IBM Software

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  November 16, 2021

Tom Rosamilia has had a remarkable career by most any measure, but it is particularly notable in the tech industry, where employment tends to be highly peripatetic. After graduating from Cornell University in 1983 with degrees in computer science and economics, Rosamilia joined IBM where he worked in programming, software and product development, and management roles. In 1998, he was named VP of IBM’s z Series S/390 (mainframe) software development.

During the following years, Rosamilia served as vice president or general manager in several IBM software and hardware organizations, until 2013 when he became SVP of IBM Systems & Technology Group and IBM Integrated Supply Chain. In 2015, he was named SVP of IBM Systems and had global responsibility for all aspects of IBM’s servers and storage as well as the Company’s Global Business Partners organization.

In July of this year, Rosamilia became SVP of IBM Software where he directs product design and investment strategy, expert labs, global software product development, marketing and field operations across the company’s vast software portfolio, including major product brands such as Watson, Db2, Cognos, QRadar, and Cloud Paks. He also leads the company’s cybersecurity mission.

I recently interviewed Tom Rosamilia about his latest senior leadership role, and discussed how IBM’s efforts in hybrid cloud, artificial intelligence, security and other areas benefit customers and partners, and differentiate the company in highly competitive global markets.

Continue reading

De-risking Cloud Consumption: IBM Cloud for Financial Services

De-risking Cloud Consumption: IBM Cloud for Financial Services

By Charles King, Pund-IT®



noun: a situation involving exposure to danger

verb: to expose (someone or something valued) to danger, harm, or loss.

One of the odder points about cloud computing is the ongoing contentiousness over technical infrastructure. Debating the quality and benefits of various system designs, silicon developments and aaS models has its place but is analogous to arguing over who builds the best turbines for hydroelectric plants. More important concerns include how electrical services are being put to use and how well vendors are addressing customers’ business-critical requirements.

In the case of cloud, that is especially important when it comes to organizations that require far more than support for simple business processes or general-purpose compute, such as those in heavily regulated industries like banks, insurers and other financial institutions. IBM Cloud for Financial Services offers a good example of how an innovative vendor can blend deep technical expertise, decades of industry experience and valuable strategic partnerships into compelling new services and solutions. Continue reading

Lenovo SSG Launches Turnkey Solutions

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  October 20, 2021

If you were ranking the most revolutionary technology products of the past quarter century, the modern PC would have to be at or near the top of the list. Early on, PCs were playthings for the technically inclined before businesses adopted them for productivity and workplace tasks. Continuing evolution and countless innovative developments helped bring modern PCs to where they are today: reliable, affordable, easy to use devices that are more akin to home appliances than they are to early personal computers.

Can the example of modern PCs be applied to other technologies? Certainly. In fact, that very point is central to the new Lenovo Turnkey Solutions that the company’s Solutions and Services Group (SSG) introduced this week at the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo. Let’s consider the new offerings more closely. Continue reading

Dell Technologies Pitches Edge Computing Strategy, Solutions and Partnerships

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  October 20, 2021

Managing IT at or beyond the edge of traditional corporate networks has been an important subject for years, especially among businesses that employ remote/branch offices (ROBOs) and mobile workers. But edge computing as a separate entity has gained relevance and momentum during the past half decade due to the evolution of complementary technologies, including Internet of Things (IoT) offerings and increasingly powerful wireless services.

It is both logical and natural that vendors move ahead to support the edge computing needs of corporate customers. In fact, the new edge-focused solutions and services announced recently by Dell Technologies and key partners offer interesting examples of what businesses can expect and should be looking for. Let’s consider Dell’s solutions in more detail. Continue reading

Innovating Home Video Conferencing: Dell’s New 27 Video Conferencing Monitor – S2722DZ

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  October 13, 2021

Predictability is a business value largely ignored until unpredictability rears its head. That was a central lesson at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic as thousands of companies and millions of their employees struggled to find, learn and manage predictable solutions for working from home (WFH) and other remote locations. As the pandemic continues, many of those temporary options are becoming permanent parts of workers’ lives.

How are vendors responding? In the case of Dell, the company recently launched five new monitors designed to simplify WFM and other mobile processes and applications. Following are my thoughts on the new Dell 27 Video Conferencing Monitor (S2722DZ) and a few brief comments on the rest of the group. Continue reading

IBM and the Semantics of Cloud

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  September 29, 2021

For a technology that has existed for some 15 years, the form and meaning (or semantics) of cloud computing remains oddly unsettled. Depending on who you talk or listen to, cloud may or may not incorporate as-a-service (aaS) solutions for infrastructure (IaaS), platforms (PaaS) or software (SaaS). Clouds may be public (off-premises) or private (on-premises), or both (hybrid), and might or might not incorporate various public cloud services (multi-cloud). Most cloud service providers (SPs) act as hosts for often massive troves of customer data, but some argue that hosting services are not, per se, cloud.

Cloud SPs talk about themselves all the time, often at finely orchestrated public events. Less common are opportunities for analysts and other interested parties to directly engage with senior executives at Tier 1 cloud providers. Howard Boville, SVP of IBM Cloud recently hosted an update for analysts to discuss the company’s practical and strategic imperatives around cloud computing. Following are a few thoughts on this event. Continue reading

Lenovo Taps Strategic Partners for New Everything-as-a-Service and Edge Solutions

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  September 15, 2021

Lenovo has long been one of the tech industry’s canniest vendors in terms of building and extending strategic partnerships. So, it is no surprise that both new and existing partners shared the spotlight and rallying cries during last week’s Lenovo Tech World 2021 event.

Building on Lenovo’s existing suite of Infrastructure-as-a-Service and Device-as-a-Service offerings, the company also used the Tech World event to unveil a host of new as-a-Service and edge computing solutions. Many of those are delivered through its Infrastructure Solutions Group (ISG) and Solutions and Services Group (SSG).

However, while most every systems vendor is delivering or developing its own brand of EaaS and edge offerings, few are focused as intently as Lenovo is on the practical value partners can add to those efforts. As a result, Lenovo’s new offerings will arrive at market well ahead of and better formed than many others. Let’s consider this in greater detail.

The case for EaaS and edge

First, why are vendors focusing so intently on EaaS and edge computing? In essence, they are following the money and the market but for somewhat different reasons. The case for EaaS—acquiring, deploying, maintaining and managing a vendor’s products through a single contract, support and payment agreement with no upfront costs—has strengthened significantly during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Businesses facing unexpected challenges in everything from staffing to facilities maintenance to customer demand to supply chain management are looking for ways to survive and succeed. Those drivers, along with simplified monthly or quarterly payment terms, have made EaaS solutions increasingly valuable for and attractive to business customers.

According to Lenovo, the market for aaS offerings is growing at more than 4X the overall IT services TAM. On the product side, the company noted that aaS represents 12 percent of x86 server spend and over half of new enterprise storage spend, growing at 40 percent CAGR. In commercial PCs, one of the earliest markets for EaaS, solutions represent 17 percent of overall spend (up from 1 percent two years ago) and is growing at 50 percent CAGR.

In other words, it is no wonder that IT vendors are pursuing EaaS.

What about edge computing? The narrative there has also been impacted by Covid-19. For years, the case for edge computing revolved around the need to process, analyze and enhance the value of data being generated and collected at the remote ends of corporate networks, in locations such as factory floors and retail outlets. Those value propositions still exist but added to the mix are new use cases, such as businesses supporting remote workers and schools enabling distance learning.

As a result, private and public sector customers are seeking solutions that enhance the performance of network functions and services while also easing or automating complex management tasks. Given the growing interest in and potential size of these markets, numerous IT vendors are actively developing and delivering edge-focused solutions and services.

Lenovo’s new enterprise offerings and partners’ value-add

So, what exactly did Lenovo announce at Tech World 2021? Perhaps the most important takeaway is that the company will begin offering its entire portfolio of products as a service under the expanded TruScale brand. Lenovo believes it is fully able to differentiate TruScale from competitors’ offerings through its global reach, its portfolio of end-to-end — “from the pocket to the cloud” — technology solutions, and its centralized management platform.

That said, what are Lenovo’s new enterprise data center and cloud EaaS and edge offerings all about, and what roles do Lenovo’s strategic partners play? In the former case, the new EaaS solutions significantly expand on the company’s TruScale Infrastructure Services which allow customers to use hardware and services without purchasing the equipment and pay for what they use with no minimum capacity requirements.

Lenovo’s metering solution remains outside of the customer’s data plane, combining the simplicity of cloud-like access and economics with the security of hardware deployed on-premises. Capacity can scale-up or down to meet a customer’s business needs. Agreements include all related services (maintenance, support, remote monitoring and management) paid in one monthly bill.

Partners play key roles in existing Lenovo TruScale-enabled offerings, such as the SAP S/4HANA Cloud private edition, a fully managed SAP S/4HANA cloud service based on Lenovo TruScale and purchased through SAP, and the Nutanix- and Citrix-based hosted desktop solution announced in April.

At Tech World 2021, the company announced new partner-enabled offerings including:

  • Edge-to-cloud solutions utilizing Lenovo’s ThinkAgile VX HCI platform and VMware Cloud Foundation or Lenovo’s ThinkAgile MX HCI platform and Microsoft Azure Stack HCI (both will be available in December 2021)
  • VMware-based infrastructure solutions (Lenovo + VMware Cloud Foundation) as-a-service managed by Lenovo through the VMware Cloud Provider Program (VCPP) (available worldwide in December 2021)
  • Deloitte Cloud Managed Services powered by Lenovo TruScale IaaS which leverage Deloitte’s Open Cloud management platform and can be purchased through Deloitte or Lenovo (available in December 2021)
  • In partnership with Intel, Lenovo TruScale Infrastructure Solutions with Silicon-as-a-Service capabilities will enable customers to scale compute resources on-demand and only pay for activated processor cores. Proof-of-Concepts are currently in progress with availability slated for 1Q 2022
  • Lenovo TruScale Infinite Storage enables perpetual non-disruptive storage infrastructure data services, including guaranteed upgrades to the most current Lenovo ThinkSystem DM series for the life of the contract. Enables customers to non-disruptively grow their storage environments up to 260PB to meet performance and/or capacity requirements (available in 1Q 2022)

Along with customers purchasing the new EaaS solutions directly through Lenovo and its strategic partners (where noted), members of Lenovo’s TruScale Channel Program can directly contract and deliver TruScale as-a-service solutions to customers (available in September 2021 for T1 partners and in Q1 2022 through Distribution).

Three separate announcements underscored Lenovo’s focus on edge computing. First, the company said it will be the first vendor to market with a solution that leverages VMware’s edge computing platform. The offering consists of two Lenovo ThinkSystem SE350 Edge Servers integrated with pre-loaded VMware software and can reduce the footprint of edge hardware by up to 50 percent.

The company also announced enhancements to Lenovo Open Cloud Automation (LOC-A), which is designed to automate data center and cloud infrastructure deployment tasks. According to Lenovo, LOC-A can now support up to 10,000 edge computing sites and speed time to deployment by up to 81% while reduce labor requirements by 10X+ (vs. manual methods). The ThinkSystem SE350 Edge Servers and LOC-A enhancements will be available in September 2021.

Finally, the company introduced the Lenovo ThinkEdge SE70, a flexible artificial intelligence (AI) edge platform for enterprises that is designed to support intelligent transformation efforts in areas from logistics, transportation and smart cities to retail, healthcare and manufacturing. The ThinkEdge SE70 was created in cooperation with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and leverages the AWS Panorama Device SDK which can be used to transform commonplace IP cameras into ‘smart’ cameras. The new solution is powered by NVIDIA’s Jetson Xavier NX platform for supporting AI and machine learning models at the edge. Availability for the ThinkEdge SE70 is slated for 1H 2022.

Final analysis

Successfully working with strategic partners is a vital issue for vendors of every stripe. Doing so can substantially reduce the time, effort and risks involved in developing and delivering new solutions and services. Plus, well-known partners add their own imprimatur or “seal of approval” to new solutions, a crucial issue for enterprises and other organizations that tend to value reliability as much as they do innovation.

Those points and value propositions are clear in the new EaaS and edge computing solutions Lenovo announced at Tech World 2021. With the help of strategic partners, the company has significantly expanded its TruScale portfolio with IT and cloud infrastructure offerings that should appeal to a wide range of business customers. Lenovo has also followed a similar partner-amplified path in its new edge offerings, resulting in solutions that will resonate with businesses’ current needs and emerging areas of interest.

As I noted earlier, Lenovo has proactively leveraged strategic partnerships for many years, from well-established efforts with IT industry mainstays, including Intel, Microsoft, VMware, SAP, Nutanix, Citrix and NVIDIA to newer relationships with Deloitte, Kyndryl and AWS. While the Everything-as-a-Service and edge computing offerings announced at Tech World 2021 may be new, the partner-driven ethos behind them has been a key part of Lenovo’s longstanding success and the benefits it consistently delivers to business customers and the channel.

© 2021 Pund-IT®. All rights reserved.

IBM Power E1080: IBM Puts Power10 Muscle Behind its Hybrid Cloud Strategy

By Charles King, Pund-IT®

It is difficult to think of a Tier 1 vendor that placed a bet on cloud computing earlier than IBM. In 2007, the year after AWS launched its seminal S3 cloud storage and EC2 services, IBM announced plans to develop cloud solutions for enterprise customers. Four years later, the company said its cloud services were being used by 80 percent of the Fortune 500. Since then, IBM has become a key player in hybrid cloud, ramping up its own home-grown services bolstered by vital strategic acquisitions, including Cloudant and SoftLayer, and its stunning 2019 deal for Red Hat.

IBM CEO Arvind Krishna (the chief architect of the Red Hat deal) has continued to focus on hybrid cloud as a vital market for the company’s solutions and service offerings. So, this week’s positioning of IBM’s new Power E1080 server for hybrid cloud use cases makes strategic sense. Let’s take a closer look at IBM’s new Power10-based solution and what it offers for enterprise customers. Continue reading

IBM Telum – Using Silicon to Address Evolving Business Challenges

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  August 25, 2021

The pervasiveness of technologies that touch virtually every corner of consumer and commercial life tends to obscure how solutions evolve to address changing behaviors, circumstances and markets. While those shifts are often subtle, vendors can alter their own efforts to benefit customers and help them deal with serious existing and emerging threats.

It is important to note that these benefits are not limited to any specific form or class of technology, like silicon hardware, software and services. In fact, new and valuable innovations can arise anywhere, even areas that conventional wisdom considers fundamentally fixed and mature. Some might believe that the new IBM Telum Processor the company announced at Hot Chips this week belongs in this category. So, let’s consider Telum and what it promises to IBM’s global enterprise customers. Continue reading