In the land of the high rollers, the biggest gambler of all entered the room.
With the Las Vegas strip playing host to over 14,000 Dell EMC customers and partners, Michael Dell stood in front of an audience barely reaching 14, as he faced a media inquiry into the biggest technology bet in history.
Eight months on, the smiles are still wide and the rhetoric remains strong, as the dust settles on Dell’s US$67 billion acquisition of EMC.
“We’re happy with the way the combination has come together,” Dell said. “A lot of customers observed that we have made a lot of progress over the last eight months and through aligning both businesses we’ve created new capabilities.
“The biggest surprise that we’ve had is that we haven't had a lot of surprises. We had a few hiccups and some things we could have done a little bit better but I really don’t have a lot of complaints.”
According to Dell, demand for customers buying Dell EMC products has remained “quite strong” in the market, alongside the added bonus of a smooth integration with VMware.
“Now we’ve got VMware and Pivotal co-operating together and we’re seeing some enormous commitments from big global system integrators and customers of all sizes that are validating the idea that we had,” he added.
“And that idea was that customers would rather buy more of everything from one company.”
Known to have “an above-average appetite for risk”, Dell’s now famous address to employees when explaining the merits of the EMC merger went as follows - “go big or go home, baby.”
Naturally, such an entrepreneurial spirit lends itself to taking risks but today, Dell’s assessment of the market is more calculated, and driven by simple maths.
Dell is letting the facts do the talking, rather than following the sensationalistic route of those created out of the Larry Ellison mould, leaders that live for outlandish claims and speculative assessments.
A year after questioning the strategy of long-time rival Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), and the vendor’s “shrinking their way to success” approach, Dell was prompted to revisit the subject.
“We’ve continued to grow and continued to gain share and as we advance our business, we’ll have to see how our competitors do,” said Dell, when speaking to ARN on the ground at Dell EMC World 2017 in Las Vegas.
“We’ve made some big and bold choices about what our business should look like. The reaction from customers and partners around having no.1 in everything all in one place has been somewhere in the vicinity of staggeringly positive for us.”
To win this game as a combined entity, there was no question that Dell EMC needed to take market share, and quick.
“When I look at our business across Asia Pacific and Japan, we’re seeing strong momentum across all areas of the market that we compete in,” Dell told ARN. “We’re very positive about the position we have and the opportunities that we have.”
And it’s playing out in the numbers, with Dell EMC leading across enterprise storage, x86 server units and converged systems, alongside public and private cloud IT infrastructure to name but a few.
Collectively, the tech giant controls over 15 global markets, pumping more than US$12.7 billion into research and development across 17 centres worldwide.
It paints a rosy picture.
But while Dell EMC remains strong in the traditional data centre heartlands, on the devices front, the vendor struggles to carry the same gravitas as industry rivals such as Apple through Mac, and perhaps in time, Microsoft through Surface.
Through staying close to the enterprise, and even closer to the data centre, critics claim that Dell missed an opportunity to create customer loyalty on an enormous scale, evident through Apple’s army of supporters across the world.
With established consumer roots, Apple appears to have all the ingredients required to mount a serious attack on the enterprise devices market, fuelled by loyal base of end-users.
“But we have facts to inject into this conversation,” Dell said. “And if you look at the global market share, do you know the share for Macintosh?
“Do you know that recently Apple’s market share reached a five-year low? And did you know that our market share reached a five-year high?”