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Dell Storage Forum 2012 Partner Day opens with call for more training

At the Partner Day of Dell Storage Forum 2012, the company asks its channel partners to invest in more training and announces a standardized pricing methodology and a mobile app for deal registration.

BOSTON -- Dell advised its channel partners to increase their training levels and urged them to think of the vendor as an end-to-end-IT provider.

That was the message Monday during the Dell Storage Forum 2012’s Partner Day.

“Invest in more training, and it’ll pay off in growth and profitability,” said Monday morning keynoter Greg Davis, Dell vice president and general manager of global commercial channels.

Davis said Dell determined last year that its 10 most trained partners had experienced growth in their Dell revenue of 126%. This year, it measured its 25 most trained partners as seeing growth of 71%. As a result, the company sees training as the key to increasing its revenue from the channel. 

“We’ve got a nice base of partners, and if we could get 20 more percent of their salespeople and technical people to take Dell training, I believe that’s enough growth for us,” Davis said. “And then we’ll go get the next 20%.”

After years of being in acquisition mode (including storage-related purchases of EqualLogic, Compellent and AppAssure and intellectual property of Exanet), Dell is characterizing itself as an end-to-end IT provider, with solutions in servers, storage, networking, security and systems management. The company is believed to be looking to add storage management or backup software to its lineup, and it reportedly held talks last month to acquire backup vendor Quest Software but failed to reach an agreement.

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Dell Storage Forum London: ‘Big hat, no cattle’?

At the Dell Storage Forum 2012, Dell revealed changes to its channel partner program,  a standardized pricing methodology for its storage products as well as for its PowerEdge 12th Generation servers; a mobile app for deal registration; investments in technical support; an extension of its 0% end-user financing program to channel partners; a competitive swap program; and a training test “game” called Storage Showdown, available on the partner website.

The company is also rolling out cloud services hosted by Dell that VARs can resell to their customers.

Partners attending Dell Storage Forum said they were pleased with Dell, despite a drop in stock price after the vendor’s disappointing earnings last quarter, and news that Dell raised the bar for the Premier level of the Partner Direct partner program in Europe.

“The fact that Dell has [had] a [stock price] reduction would be indicative of a global recession,” said Richard Brown, president and co-founder of Opus Consulting Group in Vancouver. “The issues that are taking place specifically in Europe, which are having a negative impact on North American markets, [do] make people more nervous. So I think it’s a totally negative thing, but will it bring Dell down? No. I think it’s just a cycle in the typical way [of] stock markets.”

Another VAR suggested that Dell’s recent stock valuation change is tied to its acquisitory nature. “To me it means that Dell is expanding too fast, without the strategic plan on how to incorporate all the companies together,” said Kyriakos Kaimis, director of technology at Custom Computer Specialists on Long Island, N.Y. But, he added, “They’re going to rebound.”

Dell is doubling the requirements of its European reseller partners on enterprise sales in order to retain Premier status in the UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands. New Premier partners will be required to bring in $1.5 million of enterprise revenue during the prior four quarters, to maintain their status. Existing Premier partners won’t be subject to the rule change for a year. In the rest of Europe, enterprise revenue requirements are $750,000 of enterprise sales during the previous four quarters.

Dell officials say they have no plans to introduce similar changes to the Premier tier level outside of Europe. In the United States, the threshold for Premier status is $750,000 in enterprise revenue during the prior four quarters.

Bob Skelley, executive director of global certified partner program and channel, said the change was about retaining exclusivity: “We think [the] Premier [tier] should be the top 10% to 15% of our partner community. What we’re finding is that the thresholds that we initiated in Europe seemed to be a little low, and we’re seeing a higher percentage of partners -- in some countries over 30% -- that were over Premier level. We just felt that was too high. It takes some of the value of being a premier partner away.”

Davis suggested that European channel partners had surpassed the Premier threshold in greater percentages than in the United States because there are fewer but larger channel providers in Europe. “You’ve got a few players that dominate the storage market there versus in the U.S., [where] there’s thousands of partners selling storage,” he said.

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