Dell Reorganization Means Renewed Focus

Category: In Focus
Kathleen Maher
Wow, what has gotten into Dell? After slugging it out with HP in the market, with so much tit for tat, Dell has hunkered down, taken a good look at itself and the market, and is re-addressing servers and workstations with renewed focus. 

The company has built vertical business groups to help define products for their customers. In addition, it is forging alliances so it will be able to go to customers with complete software and hardware product solutions.

Just after NAB 2012, Dell rolled out its brand-new line of Precision workstations. However, the message at NAB was much more about Dell’s renewed commitment to the workstation market as a whole. The company has reorganized around key vertical markets. 

At NAB, we met with Laurie Hutto-Hill. Hutto-Hill has come on at Dell from HP in the Global Telecommunications Media & Entertainment group at Dell. She told us the company has a renewed commitment to building an ecosystem that will enable Dell to put together solutions with partners so they can go to customers as a team with products. A prime example at NAB was the collaboration between Elemental, with its scalable video distribution tools, Dell’s servers and workstations, and Edgecast’s content-delivery network technology. The partnership is being branded as “Dell Deliver” on the Dell side, and Hutto-Hill says this is the first of many planned partnerships from the firm. Dell has built more than 40 verticals to address new opportunities for its products.


Laurie Hutto-Hill took the stage at Intel's booth at NAB to describe how Dell works with other companies to solve customer problems. In this case, she's joined by CDN partners from Edgecast and Elemental. (Image from Jon Peddie Research)

In addition, Hutto-Hill contends that Dell has more expertise in this evolving market than competitors. The CDN industry is rapidly standardizing on Intel platforms. However, the challenge for the partners in this market is that it has been serviced by big companies with monolithic systems. Now as it becomes more accessible thanks to x86-based products using off-the-shelf technology, it’s getting a lot of new, small companies that can help build more economic systems. However, as Hutto-Hill told us, the customers aren’t used to dealing with small companies. She believes Dell can play an important role as an integrator, putting together partnerships for these large customers. 

Dell is thinking in terms of building appliances for newly emerging markets. The vendor sees video is a great example because as the video over IP grows to redefine how we think of content, content delivery, and content monetization, there are opportunities for companies to come together and build new products.

Nvidia and Dell execs were big pals at NAB because Dell is packaging Maximus boxes for film and video production. Dell machines with Nvidia GPUs and/or Maximus boxes were demonstrating Grass Valley’s Edius Systems and Autodesk’s software. Dell was also demonstrating Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects on Dell workstations. 

At NAB, Dell indeed was looking like a different company.

Dell Refocuses on Workstations

Dell pulled out all the stops for the introduction of its new workstations in the Precision line, and it was more than a floor show. Dell is exhibiting new commitment and a fierce determination to take back a major share of the workstation market.

And, it's about time. Dell has kept its customers waiting for a refresh in its workstation line of computers. In the process, it has cost Dell market share to HP, with Lenovo hot on its tail. However, Dell knows a bit about workstations, having been in the business since 1997, so it should know what to do. In fact, it seems that Dell has been doing quite a bit.

Knowing it had to do something to regain its mojo, Dell approached its new T-series with a complete redesign from the inside out. The goal was to build a machine that would enable greater productivity, by designing the highest performing workstation with easy user access, manageability, and convenience. But the company didn’t do it in a vacuum; it solicited input from current and aspirational customers, and looked at various use cases around the world. The result? A straightforward and practical design; no superficial features.

The New T-series

Dell has introduced three new machines—the T7600, T5600, and T3600 — with another to show up in May. 

Dell’s new T-series workstations are mainstream tower workstations with a tool-free, externally accessible power supply, and improved serviceability. The new machines feature a radically new chassis design for Dell. The company designed the split-chassis and grouped components where users can get at them easily. In the back, there is the power supply, where it has been componentized so it can be pulled in and out. The drives are in the front. 

At an introduction event in San Francisco recently, Dell's Efrain Rivera noted that the use of optical drives is on the wane for many workstation users, but "you can't have too many hard drives." So, the optical drives are an option. Dell has added front-accessible hard drives on the T7600, with up to four 3.5-inch or eight 2.5-inch drives, and easy access to remove and replace hard drives, and a lockable front bezel for added security.

With these new machines, Dell is going after content creators as well as the design and manufacture side of workstation market. At NAB, we were told that the snap-in drives are especially valuable because they're talking to people who pull drives in an out for different projects due to security. They'll pull all the drives out and lock them up for the night.

Dell says the Precision T7600 converts easily to a rack-mounted solution. It utilizes standard Dell PowerEdge server rack rails, designed for moving workstations to a data center.


Early dell: Dell’s first workstation, the 400 (circa 1997). 

Dell Innovates

One of the best new features is the reliable memory technology (RMT). Dell has patented this feature. RMT takes note of where there has been a bad memory and remaps the failed memory address (on reboot) so data doesn’t get “munged.” It’s available on the T7600, T5600, and T3600 (when configured with ECC memory).

The Specs

T7600 Full Tower
Number of CPUs: One or two
CPU type: Xeon E5-2600
Maximum memory: 512GB
Maximum power for graphics: 600W
Hard drives: four 3.5 inches / eight 2.5 inches
Pricing starts at: $2,149

T5600 Mid-Tower
Number of CPUs: One or two
CPU type: Xeon E5-2600
Maximum memory: 128GB
Maximum power for graphics: 300W
Hard drives: two 3.5 inches / four 2.5 inches
Pricing starts at: $1,879

T3600 Mid-Tower
Number of CPUs: One 
CPU type: Xeon E5-1600
Maximum memory: 64GB
Maximum power for graphics: 300W
Hard drives: two 3.5 inches / four 2.5 inches
Pricing starts at: $1,109

Kathleen Maher is a contributing editor to CGW, a senior analyst at Jon Peddie Research, a Tiburon, California-based consultancy specializing in graphics and multimedia, and editor in chief of JPR’s “TechWatch.” She can be reached at Kathleen@jonpeddie.com.


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