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Dell EMC World: Dell EMC partners moving rapidly under new strategy

Dell EMC has moved quickly to assimilate partners to its new channel program, portfolio and strategies in an attempt to gain market share.

At the Dell EMC World 2017 conference, held this week in Las Vegas, the mega-vendor revealed that it hasn't lost any steam in its 'hit the ground running' channel strategy.

Dell EMC officially launched its unified partner program in February, which integrated elements of the premerger Dell and EMC channel programs. The resulting program is structured with four partner tiers -- Gold, Platinum, Titanium and Titanium Black -- and looks to reward partners for new customer acquisitions, services, training and certification, and selling across the Dell EMC portfolio. Additionally, Dell EMC said it would strictly enforce rules of engagement to protect partner deals from the vendor's direct sales team. Dell EMC partners were also told they would this year see the Infrastructure Solutions Group Incumbency program for storage, server and networking deals, which expands protection for partner-led accounts. The program represents offerings from Dell EMC, RSA and now Virtustream.

"What defines you isn't if you make a mistake. What defines you is how you react to those mistakes. And what I found ... is if you can take [Dell EMC partners] through the journey and always be there, that's fine," said John Byrne, president of global channels for Dell EMC, at a Q&A at Dell EMC World 2017.

In the few months since launching the unified program, Byrne said Dell EMC has brought their legacy partner bases into the new tiers, which have thresholds for revenue and accreditation. "If you were in the ... heritage EMC program or the heritage Dell program and you met the financial criteria and ... the training criteria, then you would be brought into the equivalent tier for one year," he said, noting that some partners didn't meet these criteria and so didn't get into the new program.

Our share-gain ambitions are much bigger than the market. So therefore we want our partners to be going out and actually acquiring new businesses for us.
John Byrnepresident of global channels, Dell EMC

"In the meantime, you may find that [Dell EMC will] spark some M&A activity," he added. He cited Data Blue's January buyout of LPS Integration and hinted at more channel M&A activity to come.

"You're seeing M&A because a lot of our [legacy EMC] partners ... didn't know how to sell PCs or sell transactional servers. A lot of our legacy Dell partners don't have the capability on services, deployment, consulting ... [and] implementation, didn't know how to really drive the enterprise motion. So there's actually a very nice fit amongst all of those partners," he said.

The Dell EMC partner program emphasizes selling across the vendor's portfolio, and Byrne said he wants partners to also be attaching services and acquiring new customers. "I wanted to bring new business to the company. When you think of the markets you are playing in, sure, some of them are growing very well -- converged, hyper-converged, flash are growing. ... Our share-gain ambitions are much bigger than the market. So therefore we want our partners to be going out and actually acquiring new businesses for us," he said. To encourage new business acquisition, Dell EMC had introduced the New Business Incentive when it rolled out the unified program this year.

Byrne added that partners had asked Dell EMC to give them time to build up training and their capabilities so that they can meet the requirements of their desired tiers. Dell EMC partners were given until February 2018 to do so. Following the launch, he said that Dell EMC partners have engaged in training and certification across the portfolio "more than ever before."

Byrne also said that Dell EMC hasn't experienced the large loss in partners as some of its competitors had suggested it would. When Dell and EMC first merged, he said, competitors said the merger would cause the vendor to become distracted, leading some to solicit Dell and EMC partner communities to join their businesses. "No one left, and, actually, how do you think those partners who were working with our competitors at the time saw our competitors [being] aggressive and [trying] to acquire Dell EMC partners? I would imagine not very good," he said.

In terms of recruitment goals, Byrne said Dell EMC doesn't need more partners. "Our partner ecosystem is a phenomenal ecosystem. We need those partners to be selling much more of our portfolio and leaning into new things like Virtustream and leaning into new consumption models and getting new training and certification."

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