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Biggest tech deal ever signals shifting landscape

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When Dell agreed to pay a jaw-dropping $67-billion for EMC, it made official the belief that the IT landscape is undergoing radical transformation, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

When computer maker Dell announced this week it would pay $67-billion for storage giant EMC, it marked not only the biggest technology acquisition in history, but also a major shift in the information technology landscape.

EMC happens to own a majority share of the biggest cloud computing company in the world, VMWare, which will remain a listed company. Arguably, Dell was after this business, with its highly strategic positioning at the heart of the digital revolution. Analysts applauded the deal, which they believe will spur growth in EMC as well as in its underlying businesses.

The deal was announced on the eve of the annual VMworld conference in Barcelona, where 10 000 attendees from 96 countries gathered to hear company executives pronounce on the future of the cloud. In the wake of the buy-out announcement, their messages took on new significance.

“There are tectonic shifts under way and the merger is just a piece of that,” said VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger. “In the next decade, 40 per cent of the Fortune 500 companies will be no more. Inaction becomes the biggest risk a business can take today.”

He outlined several imperatives that, he said, would shape VMware.

“First, elephants must learn to dance. That means we have to innovate like a start-up, while delivering like an enterprise.

“Second, we are moving from an experimental phase to the professional era of the cloud. We are meeting the information security challenge of protecting people, applications and data, and we can deliver a comprehensive security solution for the first time in history.”

In an exclusive interview, company president Carl Eschenbach said that there was a natural affinity between VMware and Dell, as the two companies had been in a strategic partnership for a decade already.

Dell is a global leader in computer servers that underpin company networks, while VMware is a leader in systems that help companies manage data centres in which the servers are housed. The deal would make both companies more effective in meeting market needs.

“It gives us a converged infrastructure across three areas: network, compute and storage,” said Eschenbach. “We have the storage and network, but don’t have a compute platform. Dell brings that to the table, and allows us to build a converged infrastructure stack.”

From a sales point of view, he said, it was like putting together pieces of a puzzle.

“One of the biggest benefits is a non-technology one; it’s a new go-to-market opportunity. EMC has been focused on large enterprises, while Dell sells into the mid-market and small and medium businesses. Now we have the entire market segment covered to sell our solutions through Dell and EMC.”

The timing of the deal, he believes, could not have been better, as businesses are waking up to the strategic importance of information technology and the move into the cloud.

“The IT organisation needs to change and transform. People think of IT as just a cost centre, as just the plumbing that keeps a business up and running. In the past, most senior executives would ask for more costs to be taken out of IT.

“Now people are realizing that, if we can build new agile frameworks and bring products and services to market faster, it can be an enabler for growth. If you listen to the next generation of CEOs, they talk about digital transformation, and how it can drive top-line growth.”

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee.

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Welcome to world of 2099

The world of 2099 will be unrecognisable from the world of today, but it can be predicted, says one visionary. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK met him in Singapore.

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Futuristic structures tower over the landscape. Giant, alien-looking trees light up with dazzling colours amid the hundreds of plant species that grow up their trunks. Cosmetic stores sell their wares via public touch-screens, with products delivered instantly in drawers below the screens.

This is not a vision of the future. It is a sample of Singapore today. But it is also an inkling of the world we may all experience in the future.

Singapore was the venue, last week, of the World Cities Summit, where engineers, politicians, investors and visionaries rubbed shoulders as they talked about the strategies and policies that would enhance urban living in the future.

As part of the Summit, global payment technologies leader Mastercard hosted a small media briefing by one of Singapore’s leading thinkers about the future, Dr Damian Tan, managing director of Vickers Venture Partners. The company’s slogan “We invest in the extraordinary,” offers a small clue to Tan’s perspective.

“We look as far forward as 2099 because, as a venture capital firm, we invest in the long term,” he tells a group of journalists from Africa and the Middle East. “Companies explode in growth because there is value in the future. If there is no growth, they won’t explode.”

The big question that the Smart Cities Summit and Mastercard are trying to help answer is, what will cities look like in the year 2099? Tan can’t give an exact answer, but he offers a framework that helps one approach the question.

“If you want to look at 81 years into the future, and understand the change that will come, you need to double that amount and look into the past. That takes us to 1856. The difference between then and now is the difference you can expect between now and 2099.”

  •    Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube

Use the page links below to continue reading about Tan’s visions.

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Win a Poster Heater with Gadget and Takealot.com

This winter Gadget and Takealot.com are giving away three Poster Heaters, which look like posters but become heaters when you plug them in.

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Three Gadget readers will each win a unit, valued at R550 each. To enter, follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter and tell us on the @GadgetZA account how many Watts the heater consumes.

What’s the big deal about these heaters? Many of us are struggling to keep the balance between soaring electricity costs and the need to keep warm this winter.

However, the recently launched Poster Heater by EasyHeat and distributed in South Africa by Takealot.com is not only one of the most cost effective electric heaters currently on the market, it is also easy to setup and use.

As the name indicates, it is a poster similar to one you would hang on a wall. But, plug it in and it turns into a 300 Watt heater. The Poster Heater isn’t designed to heat hallways or large rooms, but rather smaller ones like a bedroom or a baby’s nursery or a dressing room.

It uses radiant heating, which means that it heats up in a couple of minutes and the heat is directed at the objects or people around it, quickly taking the chill out of the air and providing a comfortable ambient temperature.

The other advantage of radiant heating is that it doesn’t dry out the air like infrared or gas heaters. Users also don’t have to worry about their children or pets getting too close to it because, even though it gets hot, it can be touched.

To enter the competition follow the steps below:

Competition entry details:

1. Follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter. (We will ONLY be accepting entries via Twitter, so please don’t enter through the comments section of this article.)

2. Tell us on Twitter, via @GadgetZA, mentioning @Takealot in your posting, how many Watts the Poster Heater consumes.

cleardot.gif3. The competition closes on 31 July 2018.

4. Winners will be notified via Twitter on 1 August and Takealot.com will be in touch to organise delivery.

5. The competition is only open to South African residents.

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