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Michael Dell: On SDNs and networking for the masses

Jim Duffy | April 29, 2014
The man who popularised consumer computing sees an opportunity in 'making technology more affordable, more acceptable to hundreds of millions of customers'.

What is your view of the OpenDaylight SDN project spearheaded by Cisco and IBM?
We stay actively involved in all of the standards groups, while I'll tell you that not all of them have the customer in mind. We always take the side of the customer and the approach of, how do we make this a win for customers? We're not seeing that behavior from all of the participants.

When you jump into Microsoft, Google, Facebook,, Alibaba, all of whom are our customers, there's no Cisco. This is where we live. We see the world changing here, we're definitely embracing it, and we have the cost structure, the DNA. Dell's a company that invests a billion and a half dollars in R&D, has incredible partners behind it. This year we'll file more patents than any year in our history. We've got 6,000 patents issued and applied for so, we're serious about this and committing significant resources.

Wouldn't all of these open initiatives undercut your hardware business? Wouldn't the Open Compute Project, for example, devalue Dell hardware? Wouldn't adding Cumulus to your switches devalue your FTOS operating system software?
The same question could have been asked about Unix or any other large open initiative. Windows on servers, that was a huge change back in the mid-1990s. It was disruptive, it caused all kinds of challenges for the incumbents, yet the net effect was a sea change in the affordability of these kinds of systems. I look at the underlying ingredients here and there's a big opportunity here to change this market and bring the technology to many, many more customers all over the world.


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