As Dell EMC World debuts in Las Vegas, company’s founder pitches a new IT solutions vision

Posted May 8th, 2017

LAS VEGAS -- It’s repeated so often, it’s almost taken as a fundamental business truth: Businesses are flocking to the public cloud because it saves them money by not having to buy IT equipment and software, or hire the people to run them.

But Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell raised eyebrows when he disputed that notion during his keynote speech delivered at Dell EMC World in Las Vegas on Monday.

Dell said public clouds can be “twice as expensive” as running an IT operation in-house. 

“If you have a public cloud first-and-only strategy, I think you will find yourself uncompetitive in the long term,” Dell said.  

READ: Live coverage of Dell EMC World

This is a key argument for Dell Technologies, which has undergone a major transformation after purchasing data storage company EMC Corp. last year. 

In addition to selling PCs to consumers and businesses, Dell Technologies is now heavily invested in selling such as servers, storage and software to organizations that want to run at least part of their IT operations in-house. 

Monday kicked off the first day of Dell EMC World, a conference hosted by Round Rock-based Dell Technologies in Las Vegas. Company executives said they expected about 13,000 people to attend the event. 

John Locher/APAttendees watch a presentation on a screen at the Dell EMC World conference, Monday, May 8, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

This is the first time Dell Technologies has hosted a conference in Las Vegas, and the company nodded to its new host city by featuring magician David Blaine as part of Michael Dell’s keynote address.

Prior to buying data storage company EMC Corp. in September Dell hosted its annual conference in Austin.  But combining Dell World and EMC World meant moving the conference to Las Vegas, which can more easily accommodate a larger conference crowd.

Much of Michael Dell’s keynote speech, delivered in a cavernous hall with capacity for 12,000 people, focused on pitching how Dell Technologies can help businesses run their IT operations, retain and understand data, and develop new applications.  

“We have the strongest and the furthest reach, with more direct customers and more powerful channel partners than any other tech company anywhere,” Michael Dell told the assembled crowd of customers, vendors and employees. 

He also noted that because Dell Technologies is privately controlled, the company’s leaders are able to take a longer-range view, investing in research and development to the tune of $4.5 billion a year. 

What used to be known as Dell Inc. became a different company after the purchase of EMC Corp. last year, which meant absorbing other companies owned by EMC, such as Pivotal and VMware. 

John Locher/APPeople attend the Dell EMC World conference, Monday, May 8, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Dell Inc. also changed its name to Dell Technologies, and it became an umbrella term for subsidiaries and business units as independent companies. The PC business retained the Dell name, while the storage and server business is called Dell EMC. 

During his speech, Michael Dell only briefly mentioned the product that started his business and made him a billionaire: personal computers. 

Thirty minutes into the speech, he noted that PCs are still “the core” of Dell Technologies. 

Later, during a question-and-answer session with journalists and analysts, he emphasized that Dell’s PC business was doing well.

“The PC is still very important to our customers and to us,” he said, noting that the average selling price for PCs have increased, as have revenues. 

Dell Technologies is a $74 billion business, with nearly 150,000 employees. Its headquarters is in Round Rock, but the company has substantial operations in Hopkinton,  Mass., where EMC was based. 

The company doesn’t disclose how many people it employs in the Austin, but the Austin Chamber of Commerce estimates that Dell Technologies’ Central Texas workforce is 13,000. 

The Dell EMC World conference will continue Tuesday in Las Vegas.

512tech at Dell EMC World

Technology reporter Lilly Rockwell is in Las Vegas this week covering Dell EMC World. Look for her live coverage at and on Twitter at @LillyRockwell.