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Partners to play 'significant role' in Dell Technologies

Gregg Ambulos, EMC's senior vice president of global channel operations, said channel partners will be an important part of Dell Technologies' go-to-market strategy.

LAS VEGAS -- Partners attending the EMC Global Partner Summit at EMC World 2016 want to know where they stand with the vendor, as they're swept into Dell's acquisition of EMC, which is scheduled to close later this year. The combined company will operate as Dell Technologies.

SearchITChannel sat down with Gregg Ambulos, senior vice president of global channel operations at EMC, to get some answers.

What do you want partners to take away from the conference?

Gregg Ambulos: I think if you look at the opportunity at hand, first as it pertains to the merger, everything is on track, as Michael [Dell] made it clear. So, whether it's customers or partners, everything now is about staying the course, and we're looking at a July/August time period for the merger to go through. So, as far as any uncertainty, most people right now are realizing that this thing is going to happen.

Some of the things I've talked about: There's very little overlap between the two companies' products, so the depth and breadth of our offerings is second to none in the industry; two, being a private company is going to afford us the ability to make investments; and the other piece, from a partner standpoint, is having a one unified partner program going forward, with a centralized global channel structure, which is the way that EMC goes to market today within the channel.

So, the partners that are used to EMC, from a structure standpoint, it's going to be, from my standpoint, pretty seamless. And as it pertains to the program, we're going to listen to our partners and capture the best from what Dell's been doing and what EMC has been doing, and I'm excited about what it's going to look like in 2017.

Have you heard any mention of a partner revenue goal for Dell Technologies?

Ambulos: No one has come out with a specific number, but everyone wants the business to grow. So, whether it was Dell, independently, or EMC, independently, our goal for both organizations' programs was to see more business go through the channel, especially as our portfolio continues to broaden.

Now that we're coming together, those philosophies haven't changed.

There wasn't much said at the conference about the company's services strategy or cloud strategy going forward -- two key areas that are getting a lot of attention at most vendor companies. What can you tell partners?

Ambulos: Services [are] key. That's the glue, the stickiness that is the staying power that partners have, and our whole philosophy is to make sure that we offer all of our services to our partners who want to invest. They become a true extension to our sales organization, and that's not going to change. Whether it's around cloud-based services -- and for the first time this year, we opened up some of our consulting methodologies to the partner community, and we had never done that before. Some of our top consultants have made investments around the cloud, and IT business transformation is one [and] cloud advisory services is another. These are typically the kind of services that partners would have to buy from us, and EMC would come in and do the consultative work. Now, we're training some of our key partners who want to make this investment into doing that themselves.

So, as the Dell Technologies and the different entities under Dell Technologies [Dell EMC, VMware, Pivotal, RSA, SecureWorks and Virtustream] come together and we have more of these solutions that are going to leverage these sister companies, partners are going to play a significant role in helping us take those to market.

What about cloud?

Ambulos: Cloud is a huge play for us, so we talked about the modern data center, where you have modern infrastructure and where converged infrastructure comes into play. And if you look at our portfolio, we have Vblock, VxRail and VxRack, so we have best-of-breed offerings in that area. And from a cloud standpoint, a lot of customers on Platform 2 [also referred to as the 2nd platform] on premises, they're going to build their cloud infrastructure around a Vblock architecture.

If you look at our cloud strategy for on premises, we have our EMC Enterprise Hybrid Cloud. Off premises, platform 2, we have Virtustream for [cloud services providers] to build out infrastructure on EMC. If you look at Platform 3, [also referred to as the 3rd platform], we introduced the Native Hybrid Cloud that's built on the VxRack. And then off premises, platform 3, we have Virtustream and vCloud Air that work with Azure or Amazon. So, we have a strong cloud strategy, and our partners are going to play a significant role in that.

Partners need to continue to invest; the market is moving quickly and you have to place some bets.
Gregg Ambulossenior vice president of global channel operations, EMC

Over the course of the next three to four years, more of their revenue is going to be tied to the cloud. And if you look at the training going on today, the traditional product training is where partners spent the majority of their time -- now, they want to understand cloud and be the trusted adviser to have that conversation with their customers. And then, not only have the conversation, but how to continue to stay relevant where they're going in and not only providing maintenance, but also the additional services that need to go around it.

So, in summary?

Ambulos: Partners need to continue to invest; the market is moving quickly and you have to place some bets. Partners also need to invest into EMC, such as the training, getting proficient on our solutions and offerings, and invest time working and meeting with the sales organizations. That is key, because you can have the best program in the world, but where the rubber meets the road is the relationships in the field. I would also say the cloud and understanding our cloud message. What you're seeing in the marketplace is a convergence happening -- our traditional solution provider that needs to transform their business quickly, they have to start establishing some peer-to-peer partnerships, which is going to give them more breadth, and the ability to go in and having those conversations with the customer.

Next Steps

Read about EMC's efforts to streamline its channel program

Gain insight into EMC's business partner program

Rewind to the 2015 EMC partner conference

Dig Deeper on Channel partner program news

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Where do you see Dell Technologies' strengths and weaknesses from a channel-partner perspective?
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