May is fast approaching, which means that Dell's annual conference is almost upon us. The yearly shindig has changed its name yet again, going from the post-merger Dell EMC World to Dell Technologies World. For those of you who aren't quite keeping up, Dell Technologies is the overall umbrella organisation, which encompasses VMware, Virtustream, Pivotal, RSA, SecureWorks and (confusingly) both Dell and Dell EMC.
In terms of what we can expect from this year's show, I'm fervently hoping that the answer is 'less stuff'. Last year, if you'll recall, the freshly-unified Dell Technologies updated basically its entire portfolio of enterprise hardware, with a new generation of PowerEdge servers, a fully refreshed storage line including new Isilon and VMax units, and new data protection and networking appliances, as well as a host of updates to other business units like its cloud divisions.
Given that this barrage of new hardware was unleashed just a year ago, I'd be surprised if we saw anything approaching that amount of product refreshes. What we're much more likely to see is a focus on how customers can actually integrate these products into their existing IT stack, with concepts like multi-cloud, hybrid cloud and hyperconverged infrastructure being key talking points.
That said, this year's Dell Technologies World would be a great opportunity to talk about some of the company's client hardware. The most recent output from Dell's XPS, Precision and Optiplex lines, powered by Intel's 8th-generation processors, has been rather impressive, and it would be nice to see more stage time devoted to everyday business machines - although don't hold your breath for any new announcements.
We're also unlikely to see many major product updates from Dell's biggest subsidiaries like VMware or RSA, given that both of them still run their own flagship conferences. Instead, this will be a good opportunity for Dell to spend some time on smaller units like Pivotal and Virtustream - although there's a good chance VMware's Pat Gelsinger will make an appearance to discuss some of the themes that will be foregrounded at VMworld in August.
Speaking of themes, expect data protection and compliance to be a big focus for this year's show. With everyone's favourite piece of data protection legislation now less than a month away from coming into force, GDPR is likely to be a hot topic – especially for those companies still working on becoming fully compliant. If I were a gambling man, I'd suggest that the discussion will probably centre on how you can maintain compliance going forward - because much like a dog, the GDPR is for life.
One last thing; rumours continue to circulate that Michael Dell is working on plans to take the company public, after doing the exact opposite with a $25 billion buyout just five years ago. He will accomplish this, so the scuttlebutt says, via a 'reverse merger', in which the publicly-traded VMware buys the privately-owned Dell Technologies - meaning that the latter can be publicly traded without having to jump through all of the expensive and time-consuming hoops associated with an IPO. It's incredibly unlikely that we'll hear anything official about this, but I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for any tell-tale signs...