Data Protection Perspectives from Dell Analyst Conference 2015

Is ‘Backup’ a four-letter word at Dell?  Maybe, depending on who you talk to.

If you watched my video summary from Dell’s Analyst Conference in 2014, I was initially excited about their four pillar story being around three platforms [Transform], [Connect], and [Inform] being underpinned by [Protect] that are expanded as Security and Data Protection. That is especially poignant considering ESG’s 2015 IT Spending Intentions‘ top two priorities for organizations of all sizes is Information Security and Improve Data Backup and Recovery:


But after all six of Dell’s senior leaders had finished their presentations at Dell’s 2015 Analyst Conference, including Michael Dell, the CFO and all four business unit Presidents, we’re back in the same conundrum as 2014 – it appears as if most of Dell’s leadership considers its [Protect] pillar and its “Data Protection” storyline to be exclusively synonymous with “Information Security” … without any mention of terms like backup, recovery, restoration, data preservation, data retention, snapshots, replication, BC/DR, etc. InfoSec is certainly #1, but Backup is #2, without a single reference by Dell’s leadership.

Early comments in the day assured folks “Dell’s strategy hasn’t changed” with the presenter’s slide on the [Protect] pillar being shown as “Protect data and environments against evolving security threats.” Later, when the [Protect] pillar was expounded on, the speaker affirmed “We have a great set of security assets” showing End-to end DP Solutions including:

  • SonicWALL firewalls
  • Dell data protection & encryption
  • Dell One Identity cloud access manager
  • Dell Secure mobile access

Interestingly, when reading the second bullet above, the speaker called out “Dell data encryption” – as if even the words “data protection” weren’t worth mentioning. Later, the four Presidents talked about their solutions, including bringing up secondary subject matter experts: one mentioned “governance,” as part of enterprise requirements while another talked about the “breadth of data capabilities for Dell client solutions in the Dell Data Protection portfolio, including key management and encryption.

As I stated in 2014 and even in blogs in 2015, Dell actually does have many of the data protection solutions that customers are looking for (especially in midsized orgs):

  • Backup software for both physical and virtual environments – AppAssure, vRanger, and NetVault
  • Turnkey Backup Appliances – their DL series
  • Deduplication Appliances – their DR series

And ESG Lab has looked at several of them with favorable assessments.


I don’t disagree that Information Security is and should be top-of-mind with IT and business leaders, but Dell’s “Data Protection” story should be bigger than just “Information Security.” They have the products and their customers have the need; if only Dell will tell the broader story.

John Swainson (President, Dell Software) had it right when he later commented off stage that many folks (JBuff note: including perhaps some of the other Dell leaders) think about “Data Protection” strictly as ‘controlling access to the data’ instead of ‘backup or preservation for retention/recovery purposes’. If that’s true, Dell’s opportunity to drive its data protection (backup) portfolio as a “would you like fries with that?” add-on to so many other products/services that Dell delivers could be gated by internal language and GTM attach/alignment between Dell Software and the other Dell business units, more than any external market condition, product feature, channel affinity or other sales factor. Only time will tell.

Dell talks a lot about helping its customers to transform how they do business through modern IT, with Suresh’s presentation on Dell Services being especially good. As ESG has noted in a recent video and analyst brief, no matter which kind of IT transformation that you are doing (WS2003 to WS2012R2, SaaS adoption, hyper-converged infrastructure, software-defined, etc.), it all has to be backed up.

[Originally blogged via ESG’s Technical]

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