Dell Refreshes Portfolio, Including Small Business IT Solutions

Dell today unveiled an ambitious plan to remake its portfolio, including small business solutions, in what the company called its largest-ever business computing portfolio update.

“This is the broadest introduction of products and services in the history of our company,” said Kirk Schell, executive director of Dell’s Commercial Client Product Group.

Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) announced 24 new business computing solutions and form factors and said it will launch an additional 15 solutions over the course of the coming year.

“As a leader in providing business solutions to organizations around the world, we are proud to announce this new portfolio of products that deliver secure, manageable and reliable solutions along with great new designs,” said Steven Lalla, vice president and general manager of the Commercial Client Product Group.

“As the workforce continues to evolve, so will Dell, with the solutions both end-users and IT organizations need to improve efficiency and productivity regardless of the device they choose,” Lalla added.

Schell noted that the workplace is changing, and Dell needs to recognize and work with that change. Specifically, he cited as factors: growing consumerization of IT, a hugely growing mobile workforce (IDC has predicted one-third of the world’s workforce will be mobile by 2013), explosive growth in the range of devices and uptake of desktop virtualization technology.

“As mobility continues to play a key role in enabling companies to achieve greater productivity worldwide, we expect the global mobile worker population to pass the one billion mark this year,” said Bob O’Donnell, program vice president, Clients and Displays, IDC.

“As the workforce transforms, becoming more mobile and increasingly global, organizations require PC solutions that meet employees’ needs for increased flexibility and access while also meeting IT’s requirements for manageability and security,” he said.

Schell added that Dell takes the evolving workforce into account when designing its systems overall. “A lot of [businesses] have gone from nine-to-five and local to 24×7 and global. We want to make sure to meet those end user needs,” Schell said. “[We] also want to make sure these systems are durable — that they can handle the rigors of the mobile lifestyle — but also that they’re easy to troubleshoot.”

He noted that while the buzz today is about consumer products — like many of the latest smartphones — making their way into a business environment, it’s much more common to see consumers adopting professional-grade tools. To back up his statement, he pointed to consumer interest in professional-grade kitchenware or bicycles made from the same materials the professionals use.

Across-the-Board Design Changes

To make its offerings more travel durable, Schell said Dell will utilize a magnesium frame for its laptops, with more aluminum integrated into the system. The computers will feature port covers for dust, multiple connectivity options, an acoustically tuned keyboard for quiet operation, a gesture-enabled touchpad that is 30 percent larger and an improved user interface.

Additionally, to make them easier to service and customize, Dell will use a single access door across all models and has standardized its keyboard, battery size and accessories.

While many of the new offerings are geared to serve the enterprise, a number of them will also update Dell’s growing small business computing offerings. Dell has built up an ecosystem of platform solutions to support its hardware business — cloud, security, virtualization, collaboration, services and management — and has used those solutions to grow a new business as a small business IT services provider.

In 2010, Dell acquired Kace, a maker of systems management appliances. On Tuesday, Dell announced its new Dell Kace appliances, which automate manual IT tasks from computer deployment to ongoing management and retirement. The appliances provide hardware and software inventory, software distribution, patch management and OS and application imaging for local and remote systems. It’s a small business solution to help companies, especially retailers, keep software up-to-date.

On the security front, Dell introduced Dell Data Protection Encryption, a manageable and auditable endpoint encryption solution that simplifies data protection and compliance with security regulations.

And to further support small business IT, Dell offers a comprehensive set of services to help customers automate deployment and maintenance of their laptops, mobile devices and desktops. Its Dell ProSupport Services provide IT maintenance so small business technology customers can focus on running their businesses.

Dell’s Laptop Lineup

In laptops, Dell has refreshed its entire Latitude E-Family of products with the Latitude E5420, E5520, E6520, E6420, E6320, E6220 and E6420 ATG laptops and Latitude XT3 convertible tablet. Dell said the new Latitude laptops include more than 100 design improvements and a range of new features to meet evolving business needs, including security and manageability.

Among the new features are: enhanced security through Dell Data Protection, Remote Data Delete and Free Fall Sensor (to protect against drops); planned support for pre-integrated Citrix and VMware remote desktop clients; standardized components across the line — one dock, battery and keyboard footprint; a backlit keyboard option; and Intel 2nd generation Core processors and new graphics and memory.

Dell’s Updated Desktops

In desktops, Dell has refreshed its Optiflex family, with the new Optiflex 990, 790 and 390. The new machines all feature: a common, stable image for all chassis; small footprints and more chassis options; planned compatibility with desktop virtualization lineup; and new Intel vPro process technology and new graphics and memory.

Dell also announced the new Dell Precision T1600 for its Precision workstations line. The new workstation is a single-socket, entry-level workstation designed for professional 2D and entry-level 3D applications. It features: ISV certification on AutoCAD, Pro/ENGINEER and other software applications; Intel 2nd Generation Core and Xeon processors; and just-right-size tool-less chassis.

Thor Olavsrud is a contributor to and a former senior editor at He covers operating systems, standards and security, among other technologies.

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