In case everyone isn’t already clear, I spent ten years at Dell in various enterprise sales and marketing roles.

And in my time paying attention to Dell, I must say, I’ve never been so excited… and frustrated… as I was with the Dell PowerEdge VRTX product launch last week at the inaugural Dell Enterprise Forum.

On the one hand, I almost wish I was back at Dell, getting ready to sell it. In the past, if I had a product with four servers and a bunch of storage + networking in a 5U chassis, with integrated management, I could have a field day talking to small businesses, medium sized businesses, Fortune 500 companies, and public organizations.

It’s so…versatile. And shiny. And well, compelling, for lack of a better word. It has attracted more buzz than anything Dell has done in years. It demonstrates, more than anything else I’ve seen, that Dell is serious about driving enterprise innovation into the mid-market.

On the other hand, all the marketing, messaging, press releases, and blogs that I’ve seen have pitched VRTX in ways that I think overlook customer desires.

That may be because it could be, unless the boundaries are set correctly, the most disruptive thing Dell has ever done. And when I say that, I mean disruptive to Dell as well as the competition.

I was pleased to see some of the executives talk about use cases, like virtualization, but there seemed to be an ongoing self-imposed battle to limit what the product could do.

They kept saying “this is for remote office, this is for SMB, all optimizations are a series of tradeoffs, it’s not meant for the datacenter.”

Nonsense. It’s for what customers choose to use it for. And if Dell was really willing to accept that fact, going into marketplace disruption with their eyes open, they could own the x86 server market….in a year.

Which, according to Michael Dell, is the big goal.

Tomorrow I’ll talk, in Part 2, about what I mean.