Dell to alter PartnerDirect program for Software Group

CDN has learned that Dell Inc. will announce significant changes to its first ever channel program – PartnerDirect – sometime in early September of this year.

What CDN has learned is Dell will unveil new training, certifications and competencies specific for software for the PartnerDirect program.

The new competencies are server, storage, desktop virtualization, systems management, networking, security, cloud services, data protection and information management. Solution providers depended on which tier they are in the PartnerDirect program will need to have two to four sales and technical staff to meet these competencies requirements.

Before the September announcement, Dell ran dual programs and channel partners had basic dual status. The plan was to complete the migration of these program benefits and offerings to the PartnerDirect program after series of mapping solution providers to Dell product competencies.

One of the Sonicwall program elements that will be part of PartnerDirect is the evaluation program, said Marvin Blough, executive director of channels for the Dell Software Group and former Sonicwall GM for North America.

Channel partners will be able to evaluate any product they want. Dell will also take Sonicwall’s rebate and market development funds programs and incorporate them into PartnerDirect. Also Sonicwall’s Subscription Renew program will be part of the new PartnerDirect program coming this September.

Another major new element to PartnerDirect will be a Service Provider area, said Christine McDermott, senior director of global partner marketing for Dell.

She said that solution providers are moving in this direction even though they are still selling on-premise solutions. “They also want to provide services as a mean to get what they need whatever the solution. This element came from Quest Software and is based on an OPEX model.

Dell plans to target managed service providers, hosting providers, global outsources, telcos, and solution providers with IaaS and PaaS services. There will be four competencies in this area: systems management, information management, data protection and security.

These changes are as a result of Dell’s work trying to integrate the software assets acquired from Quest Software, Sonicwall, Kace, AppAssure and Boomi. The initial obstacle for Dell, according to McDermott, was that the original PartnerDirect program was built for hardware only.

“The Dell Software Group was formed via multiple acquisitions such as Sonicwall, Kace, Boomi and others. Those companies are at the core of the group and because Dell was in the midst of transforming itself from a supplier of PCs and servers to an end-to-end solution provider that we had to put a lot of things together,” Blough said.

Blough added that Dell also acquired Force10, Compellent Technologies, EqualLogic and Wyse also during this time of transition.

Making the process even more challenging for Dell’s Software Group was that all five of the acquired companies had different ways to go to market. For example, Sonicwall was 100 per cent channel, while Quest maintained a 50/50 split with the channel.

“Last year we looked at this and said: ‘how do we take those five software acquisitions and move them into a software channel program?’ At Dell there is one single partner program in PartnerDirect and we wanted to be a part of that program. Channel partners do not want to manage multiple programs,” Blough said.

The strategy for the integration was to provide channel partners with some flexibility to choose which parts of the portfolio to participate in. They could also do in a vertical direction and specialize or move to a horizontal approach, Blough added.

Dell Software Group with all the acquisitions consists of a $1.5 billion entity with 6,000 employees and one million customers worldwide. Dell current sports more than 130,000 channel partners in its network. However, Blough said that approximately five per cent of that total is in Dell’s top two tiers Premier and Preferred. Dell roughly got 15,000 channel partners from the software acquisitions.

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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