It has been quite a year for Rola Dagher, the global channel chief at Dell Technologies. From a personal perspective, the highlight occurred in June when it was announced she had been appointed to the Order of Canada for contributions in the technology sector as well as for being a champion of diversity and inclusion.
The success she has achieved is impressive. But what is even more remarkable is that it could have turned out far differently had the onset of the Lebanon-Israeli War in the early 1980s not forced her and her infant child to flee the country to Cyprus in the back of a truck and seek refuge elsewhere.
That elsewhere ended up being Canada, and as Dagher recalled at the Toronto stop of the 46-city Dell Technologies Forum, it certainly was not an easy transition at first.
“Coming here not knowing a word of English after escaping Lebanon literally during the war – where there were bombs and bullets and we were living on the streets – and then 34 years later you get recognized with the Order of Canada speaks about Canada appreciating people like me, an immigrant, and taking chances on me,” she told CDN in an interview.
“I always say, ‘I learned it, earned it and it’s time to return it.’ That is the legacy I want to leave. I do not want people to remember me by my title. I want people to remember me by the impact I have made on the community, on Canada, on technology, the industry, customers, partners.”
At the one-day forum, a key part of her day was speaking with and listening to channel partners, particularly when it cames to generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) and the opportunities it will provide.
As head of the company’s channel organization, Dagher travels the globe, and while her love for Canada remains, there are, she says, lessons to be learned from how other nations have embraced technology advances.
“We need to be like them,” she says. “Why are we still lining up to renew our passports? There are countries that are ahead of us, and I think that is where Canada needs to be a little bit more aggressive and disruptive. We have the infrastructure, we have the skills, we just need to execute faster and end up being where other countries currently are.”
The advances will come as GenAI, which she describes as the fourth major industry transformation that follows the birth of the personal computer, the launch of the Internet and the arrival of mobile devices, evolves.
“I will tell you the excitement is there from partners,” said Dagher. “The big question, similar to when cloud started, is where do I start? How do I start? What do I do?
“There is a great opportunity for us to unleash the partners in ways that they have the enablement, they have the empowerment, they have the technology to go out there and be confident about what they can create for customers. It is all about building those technology stacks.”
As for Canadian partners, there are some, she added, who like to “crawl, walk and run” and others who are already out of the gate.
One example of the latter, and based “in our backyard,” is Calgary-based Denvr Dataworks, a provider of high-performance cloud computing offerings optimized for GenAI, which last month signed a technology agreement with Dell involving the Dell PowerEdge XE9860 server.
According to a release, the combined offering can “train large language models by managing GenAI datasets that contain hundreds of billions of parameters. With preconfigured tools and templates, organizations can speed the development and deployment of large language models.
GenAI, said Jeff Boudreau, president of the infrastructure solutions group at Dell, “has the potential to improve productivity, changing how we use and consume information, professionally and personally.”
Dave King, co-founder and chief revenue officer at Denvr Dataworks, said the company’s passion is to “pioneer AI infrastructure with a focus on unmatched performance and sustainability. We believe in simplifying the AI journey for organizations, making it faster, more efficient and environmentally responsible.”
The overall partner ecosystem, said Dagher, is evolving. “Gone are the days when one partner can do it all. We are seeing a lot of collaboration.”