AUSTIN, Texas -- At the Dell inaugural worldwide conference held here this week, the dominant theme was what might happen with Hewlett-Packard's PC business.
But even though CEO Michael Dell reiterated the company's commitment to client devices and also launched new end-user computing software and services, Dell had nothing new to say about his company's own client devices.
The uncertainty over HP's PC business these past few months has given HP customers and partners cause for concern about their investments in HP's client products. There have been reports that HP may reverse its decision, but there has been no public disclosure as of yet. Dell executives used the event to play the hero for customers in limbo.
But one applications developer and blogger, Rory Monaghan, said it best. "[Spend] more time concentrating on improving, less time snipping the opposition."
Another IT pro said he wasn't surprised at the lack of client device news. "Dell pays the bills with its hardware, but the direction its heading is with services," said Tyler Dorsey, an IT services provider based in Texas.
In that vein, Dell expanded its PC and hardware system support and recently promised to cover HP PCs, along with IBM, Lenovo and Acer client devices. Support is critical to enterprise IT, so promising to support HP customers today and in the future could be a smart move by Dell.
At Dell World, Dell also disclosed a new Virtual Desktop-as-a-Service for Dell Desktop Virtualization Solutions (DDVS). This virtual desktop hosting service is operated and maintained in one of Dell's data centers. IT administrators who use this cloud service can deliver virtual desktops to end users without investing in their own infrastructure for server-hosted virtual desktops.
End users can access these desktops from any device that's connected to a network, and employee desktops can be quickly provisioned or deprovisioned using new or existing client devices. Pricing for the service was not made available.
Dell also introduced new client security and encryption software. The new encryption protection features include Full Volume Encryption with Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 140-2 Level 3 certification for customers who require military-grade security, one of the highest certifications commercially available for full disk encryption solutions, and Microsoft BitLocker Manager.
While the company continues to add new cloud services and software, client hardware remains an important revenue stream for Dell. "The PC market is a growth market, though it is also a changing market with smartphones and tablets," Michael Dell said. "But those devices augment the PC and are used together."
Market research firm IDC predicts that worldwide commercial PC shipments will record a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.4% through 2015, despite widespread use of tablets, smartphones and other client devices.
"The impact of the iPad and tablets in the enterprise market is zero -- it is not even marginal," said David Daoud, a PC hardware analyst at IDC. "The cannibalization [of PCs] is on the consumer side. Enterprises will continue relying on traditional computing platforms."