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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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CES: So long, and thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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