Dell: King of Hardware in Post Hardware Era

Michael Dell is not worried at all about the continuously resurfacing predictions of PC’s doom, stating that PC sales have actually increased by almost 300% since the term “post-PC” was coined back in 1999.

Michael Dell was recently a speaker at a CEO roundtable in San Francisco for VMworld 2012, which is VMware’s annual convention for customers and partners. The panel was moderated by Chris Anderson, who is the EIC of Wired. Anderson recounted a recent survey of MIT undergrads, in which the subjects’ number one answer when asked what they really wanted was “Toner,” followed by Internet access. Anderson posited that the sample subjects are already good at technology, and “don’t need the CIO.”

They are large vendors whose primary business is selling to IT buyers, so it’s understandable that there’s a lack of excitement at the prospect that IT shops are losing control.

NetApp CEO Tom Georgens was frank about the changing role of IT workers, stating that IT departments in the past were paid to keep the systems running, and would only be fired if they failed at said job. Nowadays, IT departments can get fired if a technology that you said was too risky or impossible was co-opted and used successfully by the competitor. Cloud computing is the perfect example of this, says Georgens.

It took until most of the allotted time was over before the panel addressed the rising popularity of the iPad and smartphones as potential PC replacements, with the audience being polled over the rise of “post-PC” devices as the top IT trend this year. VMware CEO Paul Maritz cheekily responded by daring anyone to edit a powerpoint presentation on a mobile phone. Anderson merely replied that the iPad is “really cool.”

Dell then steered the conversation back to virtualization by arguing that desktop virtualization is a crucial technology that will enable employees to access company data on any device. He noted that Dell was seeing a lot of growth in desktop virtualization, similar to the growth seen by server and network virtualization in the past.

Dell also emphasized that 380 million PCs were sold last year, jokingly stating “The post-PC era has been pretty good for PCs so far.”

Anderson later asked Dell if the rise of post-PC devices in the enterprise would necessitate looser security, under the premise that IT departments have no control over everything their users do, so there’s no point in trying. Dell merely brushed it off by saying that he has not heard any of their customers ask for it. Near the end, the panel also addressed the rise of social networking in the enterprise.

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