In Internet of Things (IoT), Dell EMC has crafted a clear but limited role in solutions. For Dell EMC, IoT is a workload. The company wants to garner the revenue and profit from the IT infrastructure needed for IoT solutions, including an expanding line of gateway devices. Dell EMC will be a partner in IoT, but will not compete to be a provider of IoT solutions or platforms.
Dell EMC will provide gateways and aims to provide servers, storage, networks and security for IoT solutions. If this strategy succeeds, and TBR believes it will, Dell EMC will benefit from the rising IoT‐driven tide in IT infrastructure, without engaging in potentially higher‐margin activities such as providing platforms, analytics, business consulting,
or build and run services. This is a sound strategy. The market for higher‐margin IoT software and services is hotly contested, and playing in this volatile space would be distracting for a newly formed behemoth.
The consistent message of the Dell EMC World event was that Dell EMC is happy being the largest provider of IT infrastructure in the world. The company has drawn a bright line around itself, leaving out potentially more profitable businesses such as business consulting, application software and far‐from‐the‐box services. This helps employees, especially sales people, understand what the company does. It also helps customers and prospects understand what to expect. Perhaps most importantly, it makes the new company safer and easier to partner with.
IoT is a role‐player in Dell EMC’s strategy
From an infrastructure standpoint, IoT is not one thing a company can focus on. It is one of several broad trends, such as digital transformation, that drive infrastructure sales. Joyce Mullen, Dell EMC’s SVP for OEM and IoT, said, “Every IoT deployment is a bit of a snowflake.” And VP and GM of Commercial IoT Andy Rhodes said, “IoT is just a collection of use cases.”
Because of the diversity among IoT solutions, actively engaging in building IoT solutions doesnot scale, and Dell EMC is all about scale. Building or helping to build IoT solutions is the role of a platform provider, a systems integrator or a specialized vendor of turnkey IoT solutions, not Dell EMC.
Instead, Dell EMC wants to be a part of each IoT solution, specifically the provider of IT infrastructure. The company does three things to make this happen:
# provides a line of IoT edge devices that are attractive to IoT implementers.
# has a network of “curated” partners to help customers create and deploy IoT solutions.
# collection of existing IoT solution designs that can be used as templates for new IoT solutions.
These three initiatives keep Dell EMC in consideration for roles in IoT projects. In almost every case, partners are involved, and Dell EMC’s clear boundaries make the company easy and safe to partner with. The IoT demonstration projects on the Dell EMC World floor packed many of the major IoT partners in a relatively small footprint, including IBM, SAP, Microsoft, PTC, Bosch and GE.
Dell EMC’s IoT Go to Market is housed in its Embedded Systems practice, a well‐established business providing Dell EMC infrastructure components to solutions builders.
The IoT‐specific offering is a series of “Edge Gateway” devices, which are essentially small, tough computers with more connectivity options than are typically available.
These devices are not very different from the embedded devices Dell has been making for years or its PCs and servers, and come with benefits of the company’s scale, including service, support, availability and price. In fact, one of the demonstrations at the event used a standard embedded device instead of a gateway. For customers and prospects, such devices can serve as an entry point to the greater Dell EMC ecosystem, and that is at the heart of the company’s strategy. IoT serves as an on‐ramp to all of Dell EMC’s infrastructure products.
Dell EMC IoT is at the forefront of IoT trends
Dell EMC’s approach to IoT is modest. The company simply aims to participate in the growth of IoT as it participates in other types of IT‐based projects.
At the same time, however, the company’s approach to IoT puts it
amid three IoT trends:
Hybrid Analytics: It is becoming increasingly clear that many IoT solutions demand processing close to the devices generating the data — the edge. This lowers costs and reduces latency
The Dell Edge Gateway devices are intended to do just this, and there were demonstrations running SAP HANA and IBM Watson IoT edge analytics on Dell edge devices.
Evolutionary IoT: In many cases, the best approach to an IoT strategy is an evolutionary one, growing incrementally, one use case at a time, and often starting small and growing larger.
Dell’s Edge Gateways are cost‐effective platforms for smaller IoT solutions that can be grown by increasing the number of gateways and by adding centralized cloud or data center infrastructure.
Turnkey IoT Solutions: Most businesses, and most processes in all business, do not need the benefits of custom IoT solutions. Off‐the‐shelf IoT solutions, often embedded in traditional products and services, deliver the benefits of IoT without the costs of bespoke solutions. Edge Gateways and other embeddable
products suit this market very well.
Dell EMC is a deeply horizontal company. It provides infrastructure appropriate for a wide range of business solutions, without specific products or services and without a focus on specific industries or types of solutions. IoT is intrinsically vertically and subvertically oriented.
Becaue it touches the physical aspects of business, it is different for every vertical and subvertical.
By sticking to its strategy, Dell EMC will benefit from the growth of IoT without becoming an IoT company. At the same time, by providing horizontally useful IoT products, the company
offers an entry point to new customers and partners.
By Ezra Gottheil, principal analyst at TBR