Dell Technologies' close relationship with VMware is putting some newfound engineering power behind its five-month-old PC-as-a-Service (PCaaS) offering, as the company rolls out new deployment, services and financing options designed to separate Dell from the PCaaS pack.
Dell today introduced VMware AirWatch management, new delivery management capabilities, lifecycle services and flexible financing options to its fledgling PCaaS offering for commercial customers buying 500 PCs or more.
The addition of AirWatch, one of VMware's more promising emerging technologies, allows Dell to send PCs to PCaaS customers fully customized and with all policies pre-set, said John Moody, Dell Technologies vice president of global client support and deployment services.
"When that unit is then deployed out in the field, the management of those devices is already there and working at the point when the customer end-user actually flips it open and starts using it," Moody said. "We're making our PC-as-a-Service offer more flexible and more predictable than our competitors are."
AirWatch's presence in Dell's PCaaS offering comes just months after Dell Technologies made a significant move to overcome longstanding channel conflict between the two vendors. They've done this by formulating a new VMware enterprise licensing agreement [ELA] strategy that allows top-level Dell EMC partners to procure VMware on Dell EMC paper while earning incentives from both companies' programs.
Moody said Dell's close relationship with VMware, courtesy of the acquisition of VMware majority owner EMC about a year ago, gives the Round Rock, Texas, company a definite advantage.
"The integration we're doing between VMware and Dell EMC assets is very free-flowing," Moody said. "I feel like I have all these developers working with me that I've never had before. They are working on managed capabilities I need to go take my foundational ProSupport and TechAssist tools for support and deployment and expand those bubbles in a connected and seamless way and being gobbling up and automating those management tasks. This allows me to do that. What's really different is that joint engineering between AirWatch and Dell Command Suite. As separate companies we might have been able to do it, but not that fast. Having that one console to be able to manage stuff at the firmware level is really big."
In addition to AirWatch, the additions to Dell's PCaaS offering include Services Delivery Manager, which provides customers with a single point of contact from planning through the contract's end; flexible financing that gives customers the option to increase the number of systems or upgrade PCs during the term of the deal; and complete lifecycle services.
Moody said the enhancements to Dell's PCaaS offering puts partners in position to profit handsomely on what he said is a small, but growing, segment of the contracting and ultra-competitive PC market.
"Most analysts are telling us globally this is somewhere in the below 5 percent market digits today, but they're expecting it to be 20 percent of the market in three to five years," Moody said. "I expect it to grow. I think the conversation is spectacular. The software and the data are requiring us to think further down the road than most of our customers are used to."
"Partners looking to capitalize on that expansion need to position themselves as advisors to customers buying full suites of hardware, software and services," Moody said.
"Have they done that consultative push around the fact that it's coming up in six months?" Moody said. "How do you want to begin the transition? Did you flex up, or flex down? You used mid-term upgrades, or you didn't. How much flexibility do you need in the future? Do you want to recycle this technology and move along the same path, or do we need to steer the path because of something that's going on in your industry? It allows for a really well-timed discussion with the customer about what's really going on in their business as opposed to a very narrow discussion about technology only, which is always a mistake."
"It gets everybody to talk about the whole solution, the whole lifecycle. It's not about the components, but the time, the lifecycle and what could happen to it all during that lifecycle, and therefore what does the entire solution need to look like? What does the total cost of ownership look like? What are the best of breed tactics of being automated and making sure you're consistent in your activities across the globe?"
"It's a great conversation to have with these bigger customers because the world is very complex and there are typically more worried about the security of their infrastructure and their data and their data centers and their networks," Moody said. "They just expect their clients to work. The reality is if you're not doing some really basic things, that can be challenging."
Stephen Monteros, vice president at Sigmanet, an Ontario, Calif., solution provider that works with Dell and other vendors in the PC market, said the PCaaS model makes clear sense for customers, but even with improvements like those Dell is making, it's still a challenging sell with budget-conscious enterprises.
"The products have a limited lifetime, and [PCaaS] gives them the opportunity to do the upgrades and get all the latest security on time, but it requires entities to set up a continuous budget whereas in the past they would just milk them as long as they can," Monteros said. Sigmanet has been gaining traction with PCaaS in the state and local government and education market, Monteros said.
"Everything's advancing so quickly that you can't just milk these things until they stop booting," Monteros said. "It depends upon [customers] seeing the devices as strategic. Some understand that and set up the three-year migration plan, but it's not an easy sell. It depends on IT departments, the manufacturers, and the channel to show how really valuable this is."