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4 Ways Microsoft-Dell Deal Could Benefit IT

What's in it for business customers if Microsoft invests $1 billion or more in Dell's buyout deal?

9 Bargain IT Tools For SMBs
9 Bargain IT Tools For SMBs
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A common question following reports that Microsoft might invest upward of $1 billion in Dell's potential deal to go private has been: What's in it for Microsoft and Dell? Their business customers -- and the IT pros that keep them up and running -- would probably rather know: What's in it for us?

There should be little risk to Microsoft and Dell shops, Forrester senior analyst David Johnson predicted in an email to InformationWeek. "I don't see any negative side of this for customers of either Microsoft or Dell yet, but we'll know more should it come to fruition," he said.

There could be some upside for IT, too. Let's look at four possible benefits.

1. A Better Microsoft.

Microsoft could use some help in critical business areas, according to Forrester's Johnson. Those include: "More expertise in design, manufacture, distribution and especially enterprise sales of Windows PC hardware; more dedicated focus across enterprise sales, software and services on Microsoft solution sets and platforms; [and] a stronger enterprise go-to-market channel for hardware," Johnson said. Owning a piece of Dell could help Microsoft better fill those needs.

[ Irascible CIO Stu Laura dishes on why private clouds rule. Read Why Private Clouds Will Prevail. ]

The hardware piece could be particularly important for Windows 8's eventual success -- or lack of it -- in the enterprise. Although Microsoft is touting strong licensing numbers for Windows 8 -- and raising non-volume upgrade prices accordingly -- early issues with Windows-based tablets and a relative lack of PCs purpose-built for Windows 8 could hamper adoption.

2. A Better -- And Easier -- Private Cloud Choice.

Johnson called this the "most important" potential outcome of a Microsoft stake in Dell: A top-notch option for private clouds that's much simpler to deploy and maintain than what's available today. Moreover, that option shouldn't necessarily suck up in-house resources, something that could appeal not just to enterprise IT but to small and midsize businesses (SMBs), too.

"In the face of VMware and others with respect to software-defined datacenters, converged infrastructures that unify not just different hardware domains like compute, network and storage -- but also the software to provision, operate and monitor it -- will be critical," Johnson said. "A Microsoft investment in Dell could really shake this up in short order."

3. Better Hardware For SMBs.

Techaisle analyst Anurag Agrawal echoed some of Johnson's thoughts on hardware and cloud, although with a focus on smaller IT shops. It could help Dell deliver better Windows-based tablets and other hardware over time, he noted. "The buyout investment will help Dell in building the PC-type products designed by the Microsoft team [for] the SMB segment, which [has] an insatiable appetite for tablets," Agrawal said via email interview. He pointed to Dell's current XPS lineup of convertible ultrabooks, for example, saying that it's a "great product" but not on a par with Apple's iPad or Microsoft's own Surface.

4. Better BYOD Tools.

A tighter Dell-Microsoft alliance as a result of a buyout deal also could affect the data center and employee-owned mobile devices, in part because of Dell's enterprise direct sales force and its extensive network of SMB channel partners, said Agrawal. "Microsoft could in all possibility be able to partner with and leverage this direct sales force and Dell's channel partner community to sell its own virtualization solutions for the data center, [along with] its tablet devices that are easily integrated with the business mobility solutions, to enterprises and SMBs," he said.

That could mean a new face in the Wild West landscape known as bring-your-own-device (BYOD). Microsoft could in effect "establish its own BYOD solution stack along with Dell Quest and therefore take business from VMware," said Agrawal. He is not concerned that a Microsoft-Dell deal might hurt Microsoft's relationships with other OEM vendors. "Does it really matter? Google bought Motorola Mobility but it did extremely well across all of its other OEM partners as well," he said.

Forrester's Johnson, though, noted a sideshow worth watching if a Microsoft-Dell deal comes to pass. "It would also put significant pressure on HP, who is already reeling from years of board-level mismanagement," Johnson said.

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User Rank: Apprentice
2/7/2013 | 7:04:05 PM
re: 4 Ways Microsoft-Dell Deal Could Benefit IT
Wow, I see you didn't forget your daily dose of pessimism. I've worked with and supported client sites and data centers using MS and Dell hardware for over 15 years and have been satisfied almost 100% of the time. Not sure what you are basing your opinion of Dell products on but if you buy business/enterprise class hardware it is normally very dependable. I'm talking about 8+ years of service out of some machines that were only retired because it is more cost effective to replace them rather than update them. If you buy the cheap entry level / consumer class machines then you have to realize you get what you pay for just like if you bought a cheap Acer, eMachine etc. MS is what it is and I'll agree there is definitely a love/hate relationship there but when it comes to business/enterprise deployment, management and integration there is not a vendor out there can compete. I'm hopeful the "WinDell domination" as you called it will bring us some excellent cutting edge hardware taking advantage of the latest software.
User Rank: Ninja
2/7/2013 | 1:00:01 PM
re: 4 Ways Microsoft-Dell Deal Could Benefit IT
Since when do Dell and Microsoft make good products? What is inevitable is that the WinDell domination will cause products to become worse. There will be no need to make good product because nobody in IT will risk switching away from Dell and Microsoft. We will only get more mediocre product at a much higher price with multi-year contract binding. Do you honestly think Dell and Microsoft are in business to make products that help others excel? No, they are in business to make lots of money by spending as little as possible while sacking in as much as they can. And with this quasi-merger it will only get worse.
User Rank: Apprentice
1/25/2013 | 1:38:47 AM
re: 4 Ways Microsoft-Dell Deal Could Benefit IT
The article seems to make some senses. But I think the aurthor forgot the most improtant thing which is putting two companies who can not make good products together can not make things BETTER! The improvment of any company only can comes from insdie not ouside
User Rank: Ninja
1/25/2013 | 12:09:34 AM
re: 4 Ways Microsoft-Dell Deal Could Benefit IT
Dell just needs to produce better quality rather than junk in boxes that fails after a few weeks use.
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