Open Letter to Michael Dell

December 20, 2013

Dear Michael,

I last wrote to you back in May and since then I've been remiss. I said I had some thoughts about your mobile strategy . But the more I think about it, the more obvious it is that Dell going private provides a unique opportunity; you can have a BHAG akin to Microsoft's "a computer running our software on every desk and in every home."

So what would that aspirational goal be? What is so crazy, so impossible, yet so inevitable that it brings everything you are doing into focus?

Ready? Here goes: "Create a secure universal platform for running useful software."

The first company to truly think this way is going to win. Not by providing task specific platforms, nor thinking about servers in one place and PCs in another, not an independent mobile strategy, not a cloud service, but one platform, just like there is one road system in the U.S., one basic set of traffic laws, and one general set of regulations governing vehicle operation and safety. Within that framework are myriad products, individual decisions, trips, and experiences.

A universal platform isn't as low level as networks; it works with and resides on top of networks. But it isn't trying to own everything up to the user, either. Between enterprise applications, complex event processing, databases, productivity tools, mobile applications, and social media properties, there is a tremendous amount of software that people and businesses want to run. And there will be more.

A universal platform means that I can trust in what is important to me. Identity. State. Content. Access.

It means that when I want to run a financial application for my business, I don't have to think whether I'm running it locally or in the cloud. Instead, I can turn virtual knobs for cost and performance and locality and I get what I need.

It means that a consumer will want a piece of Dell hardware because it is way more seamless than anyone else across what matters.

Starting with such a big goal will bring all kinds of decisions into focus. Our industry has some experience with second time successes, and I could see you eclipsing even those.

Warm regards,

Larry Zulch