By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc. May 8, 2019
There was a time when most personal computers (PCs) for business had a specifically utilitarian look and feel: clunky, durable, built for the long haul—not for speed. It was more about practicality than a dedication to any specific design aesthetic. While consumers tended to replace their PCs every 3 to 4 years, it wasn’t unusual to see commercial organizations squeezing 4 to 5 or even six years out of workplace PCs.
Things began to change in the mid-2000s with the advent of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trends among younger workers who preferred highly mobile solutions to tethered office PCs and phones. Their employers and IT vendors followed close behind with generations of ever more powerful, sleek client devices, including notebooks, tablets and smart phones. But it would be a mistake to think that client devices alone define workplace computing. Equally or even more important are the related deployment and PC lifecycle management (PCLM) services vendors offer commercial customers.
Last week at Dell Technologies World 2019, the company showed off the 10th generation of its venerable Latitude mobile PCs for business. In addition, it introduced the new Dell Technologies Unified Workspace, a suite of services that it offers businesses for deploying, managing, maintaining and securing client devices of every kind. Let’s take a closer look at what Dell announced and what it means for the company’s tens of thousands of commercial customers.
Dell Latitude – a longitudinal view
With over two decades of successful mobile PCs under its belt, Dell has a deep understanding of what businesses need from commercial notebooks. This longitudinal viewpoint has allowed the company to both respond to and to anticipate customers’ requirements as it develops new Latitude notebooks, including those announced last week. So, what are customers looking for in mobile PCs?
- Ever lighter notebooks that still deliver maximum performance in a range of form factors and price points
- Longer battery life, faster charging times and wireless features that enable workers to stay fully productive wherever they happen to be
- Integrated security features and services that keep notebooks and business data secure from increasing numbers and kinds of threats
- Durable and functional, yet stylish designs
In essence, organizations want mobile PCs to deliver maximum business value, enabling employees to be fully productive. But they also want the latest, greatest features in terms of performance, security and good looks.
Dell’s response: Not a problem.
Dell’s 10th gen Latitude features and models
The new Dell Latitudes offer numerous new features and technology options. All support the latest 8th gen Intel Core processors, as well as optional Intel Core vPro chips and Intel Wi-Fi 6 (Gig+) solutions. The new systems also feature Dell’s ExpressCharge (providing up to 80% battery charge in one hour), ExpressCharge Boost (up to 35% charge in 20 minutes) and ExpressConnect (intelligently chooses and connects to the strongest available WiFi network) technologies.
Security features include optional (for some models) fingerprint readers built into the power buttons and Windows Hello-capable IR cameras for biometric authentication. Many systems can be equipped with Dell SafeScreen (which allows more privacy in public settings), new camera privacy shutters, FIPS 201 contacted Smart Card readers or contactless Smart Card Readers with SafeID to protect user credentials. New Latitudes also support Dell’s new SafeBIOS utility which verifies systems’ firmware integrity via a cloud-based service.
Finally, the 10th gen Latitude portfolio is optimized for Dell’s new Unified Workspace service. More on that in a bit.
The new systems include:
- Latitude 7000 series – These include the Latitude 7400 2-in-1 Dell announced at CES in January, new 13- and 14-inch Latitude notebooks and the Latitude 7200, a 12-inch detachable 2-in-1. All can be equipped with up to 32GB of memory. Select configurations deliver up to 20 hours of battery run time—up to 25% more than previous systems. The 7000 series also offers the industry’s first narrow border 4X4, CAT16 cellular antenna for gigabit LTE connectivity.
- Latitude 5000 series – According to Dell, its new 5000 series offers the smallest mainstream business notebooks in its class. Systems are available in 13-, 14- and 15-inch configurations and offer up to 20 hours of battery run time. Available displays include narrow border HD, Full HD and touch screen configurations. Dell is also introducing the new Latitude 5300 2-in-1 which features a 360° hinge and a Corning Gorilla Glass touch screen with anti-glare coating. The 5300 can be configured with up to 32GB or memory and up to 1TB of storage.
- The Latitude 3000 series – These are entry-level notebooks with enterprise capabilities. The 3000 series is available in updated 14- and 15-inch models, along with a new 13-inch solution that Dell calls “the world’s smallest and lightest essential business notebook.”
- Three new commercial modular docking stations that offer upgradeable connectivity options, including Thunderbolt 3, dual USB-C or single USB-C. The new solutions support Dell’s new ExpressCharge and ExpressCharge Boost technologies. The upgradable power and connectivity options are designed to enable customers to adapt to and support the changing needs of their workforce for several generations of Latitude systems.
Dell Technologies Unified Workspace
Dell’s Unified Workspace offering integrates solutions across Dell’s device and service offerings, as well as solutions provided by VMware, Secureworks and CrowdStrike to provide workers highly personalized and secure endpoint devices and services while also simplifying device lifecycle processes. In other words, Dell’s new offering is designed to take traditional PCLM processes to an entirely new level.
Unified Workspace qualifies as a significant expansion and enhancement of the Provisioning for VMware Workspace ONE services that Dell announced last fall. That solution enabled customers to have Dell notebooks, desktop PCs and workstations preconfigured at the factory with specific applications and settings so that systems are ready to be put to work as soon as they are unboxed with minimal effort required by a company’s IT staff.
How is Unified Workspace different? It starts in the planning stage with Dell analytics providing insights on how individual employees are using PCs to help customers choose the right systems and applications. After PCs are deployed, an array of new Dell solutions can be implemented to help secure them and the customers’ data resources.
These include, Dell SafeBIOS – an off-host BIOS verification utility integrated with VMware Workspace ONE, Secureworks and CrowdStrike (and also available as a standalone download). The solution stores untampered BIOS information away from devices so that security operations can compare settings and quickly detect and defend against BIOS attacks.
Dell SafeBIOS also complements Dell SafeGuard and Response, a comprehensive threat management and response portfolio built on Secureworks’ threat analytics engine and integrated with CrowdStrike’s endpoint protection platform. In addition, customers can choose Dell’s ProSupport Plus with SupportAssist to quickly detect and resolve endpoint problems and component failures.
Finally, Dell Unified Workspace deployment, management, security and support solutions can be extended across and integrated with business environments regardless of the devices, operating systems and cloud providers that customers prefer. Just as importantly, customers can freely choose which Unified Workspace elements and services they prefer, as well as when and how to implement them.
So, what are we to make of all this? There are several points worth considering. First, Dell’s Latitude announcements demonstrate how fully its commercial client organization continues to develop and drive innovations that matter deeply to the company’s business customers. As workers and workplaces evolve, vendors need to provide PC offerings that help their commercial customers adapt to and profit from those changes.
Dell’s new solutions clearly fit into this mold with notebooks that are considerably more powerful and more power-efficient than the previous nine generations of Latitude systems. With three levels of offerings—the 7000, 5000 and 3000 series—the company has produced a unified portfolio of mobile PC endpoints and docking solutions that can address, support and fulfill virtually any business process or challenge.
An associated but little discussed issue is the degree to which Dell’s consumer PC division has become an engine of innovation that also drives the company’s commercial PCs. How so?
The aesthetic and materials innovations that have been central to the XPS line’s notable success have steadily found their way into Dell’s Latitude and Inspiron solutions, resulting in client portfolios that reflect broader trends in business and consumer PCs, and resonate with the people who use them at work and at home. I hope to write more on this topic at a future date.
Finally, Dell’s new Unified Workspace shows how the company is driving workplace innovations whose impact extends well beyond individual endpoints. By vastly simplifying PC lifecycle management, personalizing worker endpoints and ensuring that PCs and the data they contain are secured against external attack, the company is helping its business customers efficiently address and effectively manage their top-of-mind issues and concerns.
Moreover, the ability of Dell’s Unified Workspace to agnostically support heterogeneous devices and cloud platforms demonstrates the depth of Dell’s understanding of modern work environments and its dedication to putting its customers and their workplaces #1. That customer-focused approach is central to Dell’s new Latitude and Unified Workspace solutions and was a core message that reverberated throughout Dell Technologies World 2019.
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