Lenovo DCG – Helping Customers Move Beyond “IT Survival Mode”

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  October 28, 2020

If garnering the full value of business information and data assets was important for companies prior to Covid-19, it will be absolutely imperative as businesses begin to recover and heal in the wake of the pandemic. How IT vendors respond to the needs of their customers and partners, and what innovations they offer to speed the process, will help determine how well organizations survive and succeed.

Those are points explored in a new blog by Kamran Amini, VP and GM of Lenovo’s Data Center Group (DCG) that considers modern business and market evolution, and how Lenovo is aiding “data-centered” enterprise customers with mission-critical High Performance Data Analytics (HPDA) systems. Let’s consider how Lenovo DCG is aiding its clients. Continue reading

IBM and R3 Enhance Enterprise-Class Blockchain for Financial Services

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  October 28, 2020

Blockchain is being promoted for a wide range of business and industrial processes. However, the technology is especially well-suited for financial services use cases where securing highly sensitive data, including digital identities and currencies, tokenized assets, payment information and smart contracts is paramount.

That point is central to the new beta program announced by IBM and R3 which will support R3’s Corda Enterprise blockchain platform on premises with IBM’s LinuxONE systems and in hybrid cloud scenarios via IBM Cloud’s Hyper Protect Services. Let’s consider what the two companies offer separately and aim to achieve together when the beta program begins on November 2nd. Continue reading

Dell’s Project APEX: Enhancing as-a-Service Choice, Simplicity and Consistency

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  October 21, 2020

As-a-Service (aaS) solution offerings are commonplace in the tech industry. For years, hardware vendors offered customers aaS-based options to replace the capital expenditure (CAPEX) sting of equipment acquisition with easier to manage operational expense (OPEX) payments. That is a particularly important issue for financially constrained companies, including start-ups and small businesses. In addition, aaS-based solutions can reduce the cost and complexities of adding or reducing compute capacity to mirror business demand and market fluctuations.

Robust online and network technologies have helped broaden the aaS model to include everything from subscription-based software and services to buy-as-you-go access to public clouds. But less common are vendors that have developed a holistic approach to aaS that extends across and enhances virtually all their solution and service portfolios.

That is precisely what Dell Technologies has done with the new Project APEX it announced this week at Dell Technologies World 2020. Let’s consider what the company is planning and doing with Project APEX. Continue reading

The Case for IBM Spinning-off the “NewCo” Global Infrastructure Business

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  October 14, 2020

IBM’s recently announced plan to spin-off the Infrastructure Services business unit in its Global Technology Services (GTS) group as a new, freestanding organization was both surprising and unsurprising. Surprising because formal separation from a group that had long reflected the company’s core value proposition and also drives a substantial portion of other revenues is not a decision any organization would take lightly.

But unsurprising because elemental changes among IBM’s enterprise customers and in global markets are shifting emphasis away from traditional infrastructure services, including assembly and testing, product engineering and IT economics consulting. Let’s consider the reasons for IBM’s decision and why it makes sense for the company, the “NewCo” organization and both groups’ customers, partners and shareholders. Continue reading

IBM Partner Profile: SimpleCloud and IBM Cloud

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  October 7, 2020

Strategic partner programs have been around the tech industry for decades, and typically involve regional-specific or industry-focused resellers and specialist firms with close ties to their business clients. The results can be good for all involved, providing end customers valuable services and solutions, and building sustainable commercial relationships for both IT vendors and their partners.

The evolution of public cloud computing is delivering new options and opportunities for partner programs, especially among IT vendors that are managing their own cloud platforms and services. IBM Cloud has been especially active in this regard so it’s worth considering how the company’s service offerings are being leveraged by strategic partners and their customers. This is how one IBM Cloud partner, SimpleCloud, is making the relationship work. Continue reading

Cloudera: Helping Enterprises Address Radical Changes and Emerging Challenges

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  September 23, 2020

Discussions of leading cloud computing often focus on the handful of U.S.-based companies – AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM and Google – that lead the industry in terms of market share. That makes sense on one level but tends to obscure numerous other vendors whose assistance is crucial to enterprises determined to capture the greatest value from their cloud computing and related investments.

One of the key players in this space is Cloudera. Founded in 2008, the company was an early mover in big data platforms and applications. However, Cloudera has also evolved steadily through organic development, acquisitions and strategic partnerships with key enterprise and cloud vendors to become a trusted partner for organizations of every kind.

Last week, the company announced new and upcoming data services based on the Cloudera Data Platform (CDP). Coming a year after the company purchased Arcadia Data, a provider of cloud native, AI-driven business intelligence and analytics solutions, makes that acquisition seem particularly prescient. Let’s consider these new offerings and what they say about Cloudera’s position in the rapidly evolving and growing market for enterprise cloud. Continue reading

IBM Z and Linux Innovation – The First 20 Years

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  September 15, 2020

The phrase “IT modernization” has been around for well over a decade but what does the concept mean? Often, it is simply a sales pitch by IT vendors who hope prospects will swap out aging systems for fresh equipment. But on a more nuanced level, it underscores the pressing need for businesses to invest in technologies powerful enough to meet their current requirements, and flexible enough to address future challenges and opportunities.

In essence, IT modernization is more about adaptability than trading in your old car on a shiny new set of wheels. However, that begs the question of which IT vendors and solutions are best at meeting the demands of modern enterprise computing?

A strong case can be made that IBM and its Z system mainframes stand at the very top of that list, in large part due to the company’s announcement some two decades ago to adopt and substantially invest in Linux on Z. The 20th anniversary of that decision offers a chance to consider why it has been vitally important to IBM, its customers and the IT industry. Continue reading

Lenovo Delivers New/Updated Solutions for HCI and OEMs

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  September 9, 2020

Strategic partnerships are vitally important for a wide variety of enterprise IT vendors. While conventional wisdom once held that enterprises were best served by integrated, single vendor solutions, those offerings tended to increase companies’ reliance on a handful of large suppliers and reduce their access to innovative new technologies.

In contrast, hardware vendors that develop products with ISVs, cloud services providers and other expert strategic partners can quickly develop and deliver new solutions that serve the current and evolving needs of enterprises. The new offerings for hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) and OEMs announced recently by Lenovo’s Data Center Group (DCG) are excellent examples of this process and the benefits it provides the company’s customers. Continue reading

Dell Names New Global Channel Chief – Rola Dagher Replaces Joyce Mullen

BY Charles King, Pund-IT®  September 2, 2020

Dell’s announcement that Rola Dagher, a former company executive, would return to Dell Technologies as Global Channel Chief and lead global partner strategy, vision, enablement, program design and experience programs, generated well-deserved attention.

Dagher, who most recently served as president of Cisco Systems Canada, is a deeply experienced executive who helped lead the channel organization at Bell Canada for 13 years before spending nearly five years in Dell’s Enterprise segment and Infrastructure Solutions Group.

So, she has proven leadership skills, along with considerable channel experience, both of which will be important for managing Dell’s sizable partner group and programs. But Dagher is also taking over an organization that rose to prominence under Joyce Mullen, who unexpectedly left Dell in July after 21 years of notably successful service.

In other words, Dagher isn’t just taking the reins of an organization that is vitally important to Dell’s current and future success. She is also replacing one of the most notable and successful executives to ever serve at the company.

Let’s consider Dell’s partner organization, its evolution and how Rola Dagher fits in. Continue reading

Dell’s Latitude 9510 – Transforming Working from Home into Working from Anywhere

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  August 19, 2020

Notebook PC sales surpassed desktop sales over a decade ago and unless unlikely shifts occur in user behavior, notebooks, 2-in-1s and other mobile computing devices are likely to remain ascendant. That point is doubly clear this year, as the Covid-19 global pandemic forced tens of thousands of businesses to find ways to support tens of millions of employees Working from Home (WFH) in jury-rigged offices.

But while WFH is likely to remain a fact of life for another year or more, the technologies that workers use are anything but standard. Along with middling or unpredictable performance that can impact workers’ efficiency, companies face numerous variables and challenges in managing, securing and maintaining WFH equipment. As a result, there has probably never been a better time to consider the benefits and value proposition of business-focused notebook solutions, such as Dell’s Latitude portfolio.

The company’s new Latitude 9510 2-in-1 is a prime example of the innovations that customers can expect from a vendor that understands the needs of workers and workplaces as well as Dell. Let’s consider the Latitude 9510 2-in-1 and see how it addresses the needs of both workers and workplaces.

Note: For purposes of this review, Dell provided me a Latitude 9510 2-in-1 with a 15-inch 16.9 FHD (1980X1080 WVA Touch display, 10th gen Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB of DDR3 SRAM and 1TB SSD.

The challenges of WFH/WFA

While WFH problems and solutions have been highlighted by many vendors, Dell is extending the discussion to what it calls Working from Anywhere (WFA). That is, working beyond the walls of a home office to other less structured or formal environments. But what features and capabilities do involved parties, from individual workers to entire organizations, need to make PC solutions maximally effective for these situations?

  • Top end system and battery performance – The last thing employees need to worry about is whether the notebooks they use are up to the tasks they need to complete. That includes having enough battery power to continue working when wall plugs are unavailable or in short supply.
  • Flexible connectivity features – WFH and WFA scenarios often or even usually require wireless connectivity. Support for the latest Wi-Fi technologies is a must but cellular options are valuable for many scenarios.
  • Quality audio/video for call and conference experience – Zoom has become one of the hottest apps of 2020, in large part because of the way it has helped businesses, work groups and individuals stay up and running. But video conferencing requires more than simple connectivity. The most effective solutions offer workers an in-person experience via premium audio and video features.
  • Professional management, maintenance and security options – Keeping end users efficiently occupied is one thing, but successful notebooks and 2-in-1s must offer services designed to do the same for IT staff and managers. Ideally, those should include effective solutions for remote system management and security, and on-site deployment and maintenance options.

Adequately supporting most of these features and functions defines “good” mobile endpoints. But premium notebooks and 2-in-1s take most or all of them to the next level.

Dell’s Latitude 9510 2-in-1 – Outside and in

Like the other solutions in Dell’s Latitude commercial client portfolio, the 9510 2-in-1 is designed to look and feel entirely professional. The stylish brushed aluminum finish is accented with well-defined diamond-cut edges, and the newly designed keyboard and touchpad are as solid as you could want.

Dell’s Infinity Edge technology enables the Latitude 9510 2-in-1 to fit a 15-inch screen into what is essentially a 14-inch frame, making the system feel both slim and capacious. The 2-in-1 weight is a mere 3.3 pounds (the 9510 laptop version is slightly larger at 3.1 pounds), making the Latitude 9510 2-in-1 highly and comfortably portable.

According to Dell, the 9510 2-in-1 can deliver up to 34 hours of battery life (with the optional 6-cell 88 Whr battery). I never pushed my review system to those extremes, but I can say that I never wanted for power during unplugged workdays. What I found more important was Dell’s Express Charge feature which enables the system to be charged to 80 percent within one hour and 100 percent in two hours.

Along with supporting 5G Wi-Fi, the 9510 also features Intel Wi-Fi 6 (Gig+) technology which promises up to 3X faster speeds and next gen security features. My review unit also included optional LTE connectivity which worked fine out of the box. It isn’t a feature I’ll use every day but it’s a great option to have in a pinch.

One of the largest departures from previous designs are the system’s top firing speakers (mounted along both sides of the keyboard) that feature Waves Maxx audio technology. These provided great sound quality which made video conferencing more enjoyable and immersive than many laptops. The 9510 2-in-1 is also remarkably quiet and doesn’t suffer the hot spots that are common in many highly portable notebooks.

One of the Latitude 9510 2-in-1’s most interesting features is Dell Optimizer, a new built-in AI function designed to automatically detect and improve application performance, battery life and audio settings. It can be easily enabled/disabled depending on a user’s or organizations preferences. Also intriguing is Dell’s Express Sign-in which senses a user’s presence or absence, and automatically wakes or locks the system. I use this feature daily and it functions seamlessly.

Like other Latitude solutions, the 9510 2-in-1 can be managed with Dell ProSupport services and VMware Workspace ONE. The systems also support Dell and its partners’ security services, including Dell Command Suite, Dell Encryption Enterprise and Personal, Secureworks Threat Detection and Response, and VMware Carbon Black Endpoint.

The 9510 2-in-1 can be ordered with optional security features, such as a touch fingerprint reader and Contracted Smart Card and Control Vault 3 Authentication (an optional mechanical camera privacy shutter is available for the 9510 notebook). The Latitude 9510 has also passed 17 MIL-STD 810G tests for system ruggedness, including tests for extreme temperature, high-pressure, sand and dust resistance, shock and vibration.

The 9510 2-in-1 is available in ten configurations, ranging in cost (priced at dell.com) from $1,849.00 to $2,849.00. Intel processor options start with 4-core Core i5 and rise to 6-core Core i7 solutions that include Intel vPro management features. From 8 to 16GB of DDR3 SRAM memory are available, and SSD storage capacity ranges from 128GB to 1TB.

Final analysis

Does the Latitude 9510 2-in-1 have any shortcomings? Some have dinged Dell for the system’s premium pricing and suggested that there are other 13-inch and 14-inch sub-notebooks and 2-in-1s that offer a similar user experience for a lower cost. While this is a reasonable argument, a more technically accurate comparison would be against 15.6-inch convertibles whose displays are closer to the 9510. In those scenarios, the Latitude is clearly smaller and lighter, and often the more flexible and powerful option.

Others have noted that lacking a premium 1000 nit display or dedicated GPU puts the 9510 2-in-1 at a disadvantage against similarly priced mobile workstations. No pun intended, but such nit-picking ventures some ways from Dell’s primary mobile professional audience. Plus, if customers truly need or value those features, Dell can always steer them toward other solutions, such as its Precision mobile workstations or the XPS line.

From my own experience, I found the 9510 2-in-1 exemplified what I’ve come to expect from Dell’s Latitude solutions—leading edge design points, great build quality and rock-solid performance in business applications and functions. The wide variety of configuration, connectivity and security options supported by the 9510 means that businesses of virtually every size and kind will be able to find solutions.

Those points, along with the seventeen MIL-STD 810G ruggedness tests the system passed means that Dell’s Latitude 9510 2-in-1 truly qualifies as a Working from Anywhere (including Home) solution. Organizations looking for solutions to existing or emerging workplace challenges and scenarios would do well to consider Dell’s new Latitude 9510 2-in-1.

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