IT departments will begin to take back control of the devices allowed on their networks in response to the growing trend towards consumerisation of IT, says Dell Ireland boss Dermot O’Connell.
In a presentation this week outlining the computer maker’s forecast for the enterprise IT landscape in 2013, O’Connell said issues like technical support and ensuring security of data mean IT departments are likely to mandate a small amount of permitted devices instead of allowing a free-for-all.
“Organisations with huge IT departments would have been very reticent to have all these multiple brands,” he said. “IT guys have been pushing back hugely saying ‘you’re on your own if you use this’.”
“The IT department is setting the standard because they can’t know about every device and keep up … The way I see it panning out is for a system you want to bring in, IT departments will say ‘we’ll support these three models’,” O’Connell said.
“In a lot of big corporates and in the government space, they’re looking for a Windows touch device to be the default device,” O’Connell claimed. “Certainly, we’re seeing a number of evaluation units for board level and senior-management level.”
He said there has been a “revolution” in buying habits from two years ago when people typically wanted the cheapest netbook to use for remote working. “Now, people are willing to pay money to get systems with batteries that last longer, systems being thin and nice to use. That is much more important now that it was in the past. We had to up the ante a lot on the products.”
Dell Ireland’s client product manager Lisa Holmes said the company had launched new units last year with these developments in mind.
“Businesses are starting to take tablets a lot more seriously, particularly with the launch of Windows 8,” she said. “Now, with the consumerisation trend, we’re seeing a blend of consumer and enterprise features.”
Dell’s is backing its Latitude 10 for the corporate market with ease of management and security features aimed at appealing to IT departments. When users are at their desks, the Latitude 10 can be docked and connected to an external monitor and keyboard.
The company has also tweaked its XPS range, which was traditionally aimed purely at consumers. Again with an eye to BYOD, Dell added a next-business-day warranty to the XPS 10, which it has never previously had. That’s intended to make it more suited to business customers, and the unit also has a TPM chip that allows for encrypting sensitive work-related data.
John Gilsenan, research director with IDC in Ireland, said few Irish organisations have already adopted policies around managing smart mobile devices, but many more are aware that the trend will be upon them soon if it hasn’t started already.
Gilsenan referred to IDC’s most recent annual Irish IT Trends and Expenditure Survey, where only 8pc of respondents said mobility management is currently a key priority, but 43pc put it among their top 3 priorities.
“[IT departments] know mobility management – taking new devices and being able to secure them – all of that is coming down the tracks. In a year or two it will be up on the list,” Gilsenan said.
Trends Dell foresees in 2013
Other trends Dell has identified for the year ahead include the converged data centre, connected devices, data explosion, cloud computing and social media.
On convergence, O’Connell said businesses are looking to blend the previously separate IT functions of servers, storage and networking into one: “The idea is of having a single console to do servers, networks and storage without having to interact with three departments,” he said.
In November, Dell acquired Gale Technologies to provide this “single pane of glass” for IT administrators. “There are huge productivity gains compared to doing this manually by department,” said O’Connell.
He referred to some of the company’s other recent acquisitions, including Make and Clerity Solutions, which are aimed at giving Dell a greater foothold in the services and cloud markets.
Other buys, such as the encryption provider Credant and terminal maker Wyse, are aimed at securing data on end-user devices.
How Dell competes in the new world of smart mobile devices remains to be seen. Industry analyst Gartner has signalled the PC era looks like it is drawing to a close, while IDC released figures last week showing a sharper than expected decline in PC shipments during Q4 2012.
Possibly sensing the writing on the wall for one of the traditional bulwarks of its business, Dell is planning to delist from the stock exchange and go private, reportedly in a bid to reshape company around without facing the quarterly scrutiny of being a public company.
The company remains strong in servers – it’s the market leader in Ireland, O’Connell said. Dell’s acquisition of Quest Software last year was the second largest in the company’s history after the deal to buy Perot Systems in 2009.
John O’Mara, general manager of Dell Software based in Cork, said the Quest deal plays to Dell’s aim of transforming itself into a more broad IT services provider, bolstering its core areas of enterprise, end user computing, cloud and services with added muscle in software.
“The big difficulty with what’s happening on connected devices, data and the cloud is, the challenges are around management and security. With increased mobility and the volume of information and the demand from corporates and consumers for access to information at any time, that’s a challenge for the IT environment to manage that. The software addition to the Dell portfolio allows us to work with customers to give more complete solutions,” he said. “That allows Dell to play in a place it hadn’t been in before.”