So, here we are in Round Rock, the very flat part of Texas that is home as the global headquarters of Dell. Picking me up at the Austin airport, the limo driver confided he's given Michal Dell's brother rides to the airport.
Dell has us here for the "first ever global Precision workstation launch event," they say as introduction. The first after launching the Precision high-end desktop computers (called workstations) 17 years ago. I am estimating about 50 media here, many with British accents.
The introductory remarks are a bit off, where the host (didn't catch the name) starts off saying that 17 years ago everything ran on non-standard computers and operating systems -- and how difficult it was. Now, he says, we have a standard platform (I think he means Windows). Seventeen years ago would be 1997, at which point Windows already was the standard. In 1997, for example, Autodesk released AutoCAD 2014 on Windows only, eliminating the Mac, DOS, Unix, and OS/2 versions.
Among the non-standard versions, he mentions Sun and Silicon Graphics. He forgets to mention that their operating system (variants of Unix) has breadth of functions and level of security that Windows continues to struggle to match. But it is true that the universalization of Windows drove the commoditization of hardware -- making workstations affordable. Affordable means a thousand dollars instead of 10x the price.
The standardization that the speaker lauds resulted in Dell's change last year in financial status, where the pubic company became private, so that they no longer would need to meet external shareholder expectation. The need for the change was due to the near-non-existent profits on consumer-grade computers, estimated at around $20.
There is a lot more profit in selling workstations and servers. Which is why the speaker is emphasizing two themes for this launch event:
1. Application performance
2. Mission-critical reliability
Indeed, the speaker gets downright darwinian, claiming that if a workstation takes ten minutes to produce a rendering, then the human operator is just a useless resource wasting time by the water cooler. I wonder what he thinks of me, having spent 12 unproductive hours travelling here.
Roopinder Tara learns that the most common size of customer for this virtualization technology has 100-200 designers. Larger firms can do this themselves; smaller ones have no need or no budget.
Another editor and I asked ourselves, "What's going on here?" This is about Dell looking for new markets. I think they will eventually kill their consumer market; he thinks they will keep them around because this is what Dell is best known for.