You may not have heard of Wyse Technology if you haven’t been in the nerd industry for at least 20 years; I remember them back when they were making sleek, pretty terminals, back when making terminals was a viable business. (For those of you in your 20s, mainframes and minicomputers—and the very first microcomputers, back when they were called “microcomputers” rather than “PCs”—required “terminals” for display and input: basically, an external keyboard and monitor, but with control hardware in it that later just became integrated into the computers themselves.)
While this does give me a flash of nostalgia, the main thing it gives me is mild puzzlement at what the hell Dell is doing these days. They’ve recently bought SonicWall, the firewall/VPN vendor, and AppAssure, a backup software maker, and—as the links in the ZDNet article informed me—hired CA’s former CEO as the head of a software unit. A few years ago Dell was all about trying to push into the consumer space, with their purchase of Alienware and their desperate flailing at music players, PDAs and phones. Now, though, it seems like they’re doubling down hard on The Enterprise.
Unlike some pundits I’ve been hearing recently, I recognize that everything in the computing universe can be delivered by “two guys and a Linode” startups; there’s going to be a place for big iron in the foreseeable future. So I won’t make the joke about selling Dell in pieces and giving the money to the shareholders—Dell will probably do just fine on what seems to be their chosen path. But I hope Michael Dell continues on what seems to be his recently chosen path of keeping his trap shut rather than pretending his company is a hotbed of technological innovation. You don’t innovate in the enterprise space—the last thing a Fortune 100 company wants is disruption.