PCs just the beginning for Dell

Dell continues to forge alliances with partners as it moves into providing solutions to customers trying to manage complex IT infrastructures.

Dell Computer Corp. continues to craft its approach to the government market as it seeks to deliver more than desktop PCs and servers.

The company, based in Round Rock, Texas, built its empire selling PCs directly to users and is now moving into providing services and solutions, said Troy West, vice president and general manager of Dell Federal.

“The goal is to free customers to focus on their missions and not complex [information technology] management,” he said.

To achieve that goal, Dell is working with other companies to deliver products and services. “We are engaging with partners on the front end so customers don’t have to deal with the hassle of piecing together large IT solutions,” West said.

The company’s success in the market landed it in the No. 15 spot on the Top 100 list, with nearly $1.9 billion in prime contracts in fiscal 2008.

Dell has demonstrated its new approach through its work with the National Security Agency, General Dynamics Corp. and Intel Corp. to develop a secure virtual environment for the intelligence community. The company is also working with Lockheed Martin Corp. on a managed deployment model for the Army Corps of Engineers.

Dell is also listening more closely to customer needs. “We took our cues from customers like the military to develop the XFR, a ruggedized notebook we recently launched for customers who operate in exceedingly harsh environments,” he said.

IT management is a growing issue for government agencies. “We’re fortunate to count almost every federal government IT organization as a Dell customer, so we know that coordination among agencies around IT management and interoperability are significant systemic issues,” West said.

He added that Vivek Kundra, the new federal chief information officer, has the potential to streamline IT within government operations. “Of course, he’ll need the authority and support of the president to make that happen,” West said.

Dell officials also see green IT and related initiatives, such as virtualization, as opportunities for the company. “The most recent example of that is a framework we developed to freeze IT-related energy consumption in federal data centers using technologies such as virtualization, low-touch services and initiatives like server consolidation,” he said.

Dell uses those techniques internally and expects to save $52 million, he added.

However, West has concerns that go beyond the government market. “It’s not always clear that Americans — from the general public to policy-makers — understand that government IT is ultimately a competitiveness and security issue,” he said. Other countries are investing in this area, and the United States can’t afford to fall behind, he added.

Although big mergers and acquisitions might grab headlines, those events don’t drive technological change. “The biggest change is actually occurring from the inside out as the burgeoning use of technology by everyday users places tremendous pressure on public-sector IT organizations,” he said. “Our job is to help them process, protect and store that data so they can focus on their organizations’ core missions.”

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