Dell is making progress.
That's the word from solution providers as they assess Dell's new partner program. While they acknowledge the vendor still has a long way to go in recasting itself as a channel player, most say Dell's channel effort shows promise, with some reporting recent wins against Hewlett-Packard in the public- sector market.
Technology Integration Group (TIG), a solution provider in San Diego, recently won a bid with an initial value of about $15 million with Los Angeles County. "In the government arena, Dell is very aggressive in working with you to drive business," said Bruce Geier, TIG president and CEO.
Geier noted that he often makes more working with Dell on public-sector contracts because there is less competition from other solution providers going after the same business. "In the government business, if you go in with Dell and they are aware that you are going in with them, then they don't let anyone else bid," he said.
By contrast, if he partners with Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo or other systems vendors, there are numerous other solution providers going for the same business partnering with the same vendors.
"Not only do I have to beat [the other vendors], but I have to beat the other 25 solution providers," Geier said. "In the Dell world, all I have to do is beat the other vendors. I don't have to beat anyone else within my own ranks."
Another large regional solution provider, who asked not to be identified, just sold about $6 million worth of Dell laptops into a public-sector account that was previously buying HP. But because of the low margins on the deal, he's not ready to jump in with both feet as a Dell partner.
"You have to look at Dell as two distinctively different entities," he said. "One is a free-for-all with thousands of direct reps at the low end, and that will always be a problem. The other is at the higher end with storage and blades where they can adopt the EqualLogic model and treat those markets correctly from day one. We don't sell EqualLogic, but we are looking at that because the iSCSI storage solution really fits into the midmarket and EMC and HP don't have offerings there."
Geier said Dell has come a long way in just over a year in its channel-building efforts.
"They put together a deal-registration program, they put people in the field calling on accounts [solution providers] and they put together special pricing to penetrate accounts," he said. "Are they as good as some of the other vendors out there? No. But how can we compare them? One is a baby and the others are adults. But they have made tremendous strides."