It’s time SMEs get the recognition they deserve, Dell says

8 Jul 2010

Computer giant Dell has been in acquisition mode to provide a wider range of business services, including Kace and Equilogix. Chris Mullan is the newly appointed director for Dell’s SMB operations for Ireland and the UK.

What role does Ireland play in managing Dell’s European business today?

Cherrywood is the hub for SMB operations for the entire of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), as well as other global roles such as finance, marketing and support.

We’ve spent the last few years trying to push Ireland up the value chain in terms of roles, and today 2,300 people work between
Limerick and Dublin.

The SME or SMB segment of the IT market has traditionally been the most underserved segment; how will this change?

SMEs are the most underserved portion of the market and a lot of IT providers make the mistake of thinking they are low complexity, but in terms of IT many actually have a high level of sophistication.

Many SMEs are innovative and leverage technology to give them a competitive advantage and they require the right products and services. Dell has realised this and through diversifying into new technology areas via the acquisitions of Kace, Perot and Equilogix, we are able to provide specific management tools, servers and storage to give SMBs that competitive edge.

What are the key areas of technology that SMEs are keen to invest in?

We are seeing three main trends right now where SMEs want to invest: virtualisation, cloud computing and IT management.

Virtualisation is the biggest growth area, with spiralling requirements for servers and SANs. Older SMEs with an ageing IT infrastructure are using virtualisation as a way of reducing the number of physical servers they have to run. Companies are also starting to invest heavily in technologies that aid compliance, such as e-discovery software to find key documents, and you need the right kind of infrastructure to do that. Firms that need this are strong advocates of virtualisation.

The second big area of investment today is cloud computing. Because of offerings from Microsoft and, businesses are becoming more comfortable with having their applications delivered via the internet.

The third area is IT management and our recent acquisition of Kace allows IT managers to manage every computer and server very easily. For example, an IT manager could roll out Windows 7 to all workers in one step or perform a software audit to ensure there is no illegal software on the network.

Are you seeing a surge in spending by SMEs in technology?

IT providers like Dell have created various financial products, ranging from 0pc finance to coming up with other offers to help SMEs fund their IT purchases.

Another thing worth indicating is we are seeing more positivity among customers, which is good news. Companies are expanding their customer bases outside their own countries into other markets in Europe.

Our own SMEs in Ireland, the ones that have diversified and are exporting, are the ones that are seeing growth come back into their own business.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years