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Dell Technologies: Partners ponder new firm's channel stance

Channel partners are contemplating the level of channel commitment they'll find in the combined Dell-EMC organization, which will be called Dell Technologies.

LAS VEGAS -- Sixty percent of EMC revenue is driven by the channel. Forty percent of Dell revenue is driven by the channel. The question on the top of partners minds here at EMC Global Partner Summit 2016/EMC World 2016, is what level of commitment to the channel the future Dell Technologies -- the name of the company that will form when Dell closes on the EMC acquisition -- will make?

No one knows yet.    

Speaking at the conference's general session, here's what Michael Dell had to say: "The cumulative horsepower of our channel helps us deliver solutions and extend our reach," in the markets served by Dell, small and medium-sized businesses and EMC in the enterprise customer space.

The chairman and CEO at Dell also indicated that rather than look for new partners, the new Dell Technologies will be more interested in partner firms deepening their expertise.

So that left Worth Davis, vice president and CTO at Computex Technology Solutions, Houston, Texas, and coworker Faisal Bhutto, vice president of enterprise networking, cloud and cybersecurity at Computex, still wondering about what target number, or level of commitment, Dell Technologies will make to partners.

"The question is, is it going to be happenstance or a tap dance or is there a strategy about moving a significant portion of the business through the channel. Because, that's what's going to change the culture, which Dell most likely is developing but is not happening," Bhutto said. "EMC has the partner culture and we like it -- so I think that's one of things yet to be seen," he added.

One of the things that Tony Friberg, solutions architect at Solutions II, Littleton, Colo., who was attending EMC World with clients, wanted to hear Michael Dell elaborate on was integration of the two companies' technologies. "But he was pretty vague," Friberg said.

Solutions II has clients who are nervous about the future of R&D at Dell Technologies, given Dell's history with acquisitions and lack of innovation with technologies that the company purchased in the past. "We sell a lot of EMC and clients want to see where EMC is going to go," he said. In the meantime, Friberg said customers are putting off purchases this year based on what's going to happen when the merger is complete and to make sure the acquisition is going to go through.

Partners: EMC innovation continues

The question is, is it going to be happenstance or a tap dance or is there a strategy about moving a significant portion of the business through the channel.
Faisal Bhuttovice president of enterprise networking, cloud and cybersecurity, Computex

Davis also attended the conference to find out what new things are being brought to the table. He was excited about the slew of new product announcements made today, noting that he thinks the firm's clients are in a good spot. With the distraction of the acquisition, partners were concerned that innovation at EMC would suffer, but that's not the case.

Friberg agreed with Davis that EMC innovation is working in full force and was pleased with the new product announcements. Friberg said that he has a number of customers interested in EMC's Elastic Cloud Storage and being able to archive data that's just sitting out there but still have it accessible. "So that's a really exciting technology and the way that EMC is integrating that into all of their platforms," he said.

Gregg Ambulos, senior vice president of global channel operations at EMC, tried to provide partners with a roadmap of what to expect as the merger of the two companies unfolds. "The channel will remain incredibly important to both Dell and EMC -- we're all in," he said.

Channel plans for combined company

Some key milestones for partners as the Dell-EMC deal proceeds on Day 1 and in 2017:

Beginning with Day 1, there will be minimal changes and minimal disruption. Partners will also have access to the Dell and EMC portfolios in their entirety, as long as partners are authorized to sell with the vendors. There will continue to be two separate partner programs and also separate deal registration programs. "We will cross check every deal registration and cross check for any conflicts," Ambulos said.

In the year 2017, expect to see the two separate partner programs come together into a single unified program. There will also be one common approach for deal registration. The new company will offer partners robust incentives to drive the cross-sell opportunity as well as create business in new accounts.

Finally, there will be a centralized global channel structure to drive consistency worldwide and field-based channel resources aligned with the vendor's sales organization. "This is similar to the way the EMC goes to market today with the channel," Ambulos said.

Next Steps

Read a channel Q&A on the Dell-EMC combination.

Find out about Dell partners' reaction to Dell-EMC deal.

Learn about Dell's mid-market plans for EMC technology.

Dig Deeper on Channel partner program news