Dell has steadily been chipping away at solution provider reluctance to partner with the once direct-only vendor in the hardware space, but now that the company is moving full-speed into applications, it is fighting the battle all over again in the software channel.
The Round Rock, Texas-based company in February created a new Software Group that houses its recent security, systems management, business intelligence and applications acquisitions, including Quest Software, SonicWall, AppAssure and Boomi.
At the Best of Breed (BoB) Conference Tuesday in Tampa, Dell courted potential channel partners by touting the strength of that group and its application portfolio, particularly in targeting midmarket accounts. BoB is run by UBM Channel, the parent company of CRN.
Solution providers have a tremendous opportunity to partner with Dell to get their piece of the $1.2 trillion in IT spend happening in the midmarket, said Roy Appelbaum, vice president of channel sales and alliances, Americas, Quest Software, at Dell.
"Midsize companies are struggling with how to transform their businesses," Appelbaum said.
Some solution providers in the software space are still sizing Dell up as a potential partner.
"It's a complicated issue," said Appelbaum, fielding a question from an attendee on how Dell's channel sales and direct sales strategies mesh.
He noted how far Dell has come thus far in its transformation from direct-only to channel-friendly. "What you're seeing is a company that is dramatically in transition," Appelbaum said, adding that 35 percent of Dell's business worldwide goes through channel partners.
Appelbaum, who joined Dell as a result of its acquisition of Quest in September, said the company over time will migrate the programs from its myriad software acquisitions into a single partner program with unified nomenclature, but "there will be a unique structure for Dell Software ... with benefits for you."
For example, while many of Dell's hardware products are readily available to any partner in the program, "in the software space, we will be more selective," he said.
Dave Rice, CTO of TrueCloud, a cloud integrator in Tempe, Ariz., has a nascent partnership with Boomi and is trying to figure out how the larger Dell parent company will factor in.
"I'm trying to understand where a player like Dell plans to sit in terms of its relationship with the channel, because, effectively, they haven't had one," Rice said. "Am I going to have to go head to head with sales or are they going to rely on the channel to grow their midmarket business?"
TrueCloud sees opportunities to marry Boomi with its NetSuite business, particularly in aiding integration for customers between NetSuite and Salesforce.com, Rice said.
"My guess is that [Dell] will be pretty good, channel-friendly, because I think it makes a lot of sense for them."
PUBLISHED OCT. 16, 2012