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Q&A Tarkan Maner, vice president and general manager, Dell cloud client computing
The former CEO of Wyse, who sold the client computing firm to Dell, took time out at Dell World 2012 to talk to Cloud Pro
Can you tell us a bit more about your new role?.
Since the acquisition of Wyse by Dell, there has been a process of integration going on and now I run the cloud client computing business within Dell with my team, Alice and Michael.
It is a reverse integration, so we are bringing a lot of people from Dell into our organisation. We used to have 500 people at Wyse, now there is going to be 3,000 people in the next year. So we are growing very fast – last year we were a $400m business, this quarter we just turned over $300 million dollars. So it is very exciting times.
What does the new Dell Cloud Labs initiative entail?
The vice president and general manager of cloud at Dell, Nnamdi Orakwue, has been an amazing legal person and IT person and now he runs our cloud best practice business. In the past, it was run as a service organisation, now it has become this new initiative.
So Cloud Labs is our ‘lab’ because it is where we test new cloud based solutions, applications and infrastructure and allows our customers to get involved too, be that consumers, enterprises or SMBs around the world.
It is designed for anybody to be able to have a cloud based application or infrastructure geared towards themselves. You saw some of those applications Michael’s keynote, like our Dell Healthcare Cloud, where five billion medical images are managed through the cloud.
There are similar cloud systems done for retail, such as our new solution for virtual cloud based point of sale (POS). Today POS means PCs, all of which are local and physical and individual. Tomorrow, these are going to be all cloud based.
The same application is available for other use cases like education. We are doing a big education delivery here with the State of Illinois, which has 4 million K-12 (Reception to Year 13) students. We are cloudifying 21 apps for every student for K-12 throughout the state. We already have some [of them], some of them are going to be hosted by the government, so that goes through Cloud Labs. So across verticals, across geographies, across all subtypes for those who want to use cloud applications and infrastructure, there is a lab with an infrastructure framework to help them initiate and explore that.
You say across verticals, but the two main ones you have mentioned are both public sector. Is this because healthcare and education are just so big, or is public sector leading?
The public sector is kind of leading and the reason is that during and economic downturn, there is a lot of money in the public sector, some of the private sector verticals are suffering from a shortage. Citibank, for example, just laid off 11,000 people, Barclays, RBS etc all have problems.
So to cut a long story short, we are seeing a lot of activity at this stage in healthcare and education, where there is a lot of money available, but they don’t know how to allocate and manage it, and the budgets effectively [when it comes to IT]. And there is a need for cutting cost and what we do, as cloud client computing division of Dell, is help them cut costs in the front end via unified communications, and in the backend from a converged infrastructure perspective. All we do is basically cutting cost, with better security management they are able to be more reliable not only in operations but also in capital expenditure. In the past, buying a PC cost $1,000, now you can buy a thin client for $25 starting price. It changes the game. But, overall, from a solution perspective, we make more money from cloud than through the back end gear.
How do you manage security when it is as sensitive as with financial, healthcare and education?
It is not just them, we also have a big involvement with the military. We are one of the biggest providers for NATO, both in Virginia at the operational centre, but also in the two military centres in Belgium. They are all run on WYSE gear.
What we provide is all the applications from a private cloud. The devices are all fibre channel connected, not even wireless, for security reasons. We just delivered 40,000 units to the ministry of defence in the Netherlands. Our gear runs their ships and when it comes to security, thin clients and zero clients are inherently secure, because they don’t have a hard disk in there, so there is no information kept on them.
The area where security becomes a big deal is the connectivity, so authentification, authorisation, access control and identity measurement perspective. However, as part of Dell, we also have that covered, like SonicWall’s end-to-end solution, or Quest’s security management and single sign on technology.
We also have tonnes of partnerships – password management with Citrix, we do a lot of work with secure gateway of Citrix and VMWare, tonnes of work going on with Active Directory with Microsoft, some of which Michael [Dell] mentioned in his keynote.
So we have our organic portfolio for AAA: access control, authentification and authorisation but we also have partnerships and our own IP for identity management and single sign on. We do all these things not only at the client level, but also at the data centre level. We partner with other companies to deliver that kind of a solution at the data centre as well.
As part of that, we also provide a firmware that is inherently secure. Typical Windows, the footprint is 4GB, typical Windows embedded footprint brings that to about 1GB. Typical Linux footprint in the client segment goes from 100mb up to 600mb, depending on the firmware you use. The typical Wyse zero firmware footprint is nearly 3mb. It is smaller than a PowerPoint presentation. It is so small, and when you have a smaller footprint, you have a smaller attack surface and when you have a smaller attack surface it becomes [much more difficult to breach].
Does Dell risk being left behind by the number of cloud specialists there are? Let's not forget Dell’s history is as a PC and server vendor.
At the end of the day, we are a solution provider for IT, but the company was built on a PC model. Michael [Dell] made it obvious during his keynote that nothing can change that. But PC is not the core. We are doing a lot of work in the data centre and there has been a lot of investment and acquisitions in this area: WYSE – non-PC, SonicWall – non-PC, Compellent – storage. All those initiatives are the proof of the pudding we are about IT systems, solutions and services. It is not necessarily the PC itself, but internal solutions from data storage to servers to networking to end user platforms, which includes the PC, but it is not the only thing. Our business unit, Dell WYSE, is the fastest growing business unit in the company and it is not PC in itself.
But the cognitive connection people have between the brand Dell and the PC will stay for a while because Dell started as a PC company and you cannot change that overnight. But people are going to hear more and more that Dell is an IT solutions provider, and that was the purpose of Dell World 2012.