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Bernard Westwood, CFO at Syscom Technologies, an Atlanta-based solution provider, said his company has met with people from both Dell and EqualLogic, and realizes that they are still working out the details of the channel program.
"We really need to know the rules and processes," Westwood said. "We're more clear with EqualLogic. But we need to see how the channel side stands up to Dell's direct guys."
EqualLogic has run a clean channel with only a few distractions, Westwood said. "But not many," he said. "I fear there might be a lot of distractions with Dell."
To hope things won't change as EqualLogic becomes part of Dell is naive, Westwood said. "We're looking for as few distractions as possible," he said. "But we know things will change. We just don't want to spend time arguing about who gets the leads, or whether we get the deal registration or not."
Some solution providers have said privately that they are closing out their EqualLogic sales pipeline and looking to replace the vendor with competitive offerings from the likes of FalconStor, Hifn and Left Hand Networks.
"We are dumping EqualLogic," said one EqualLogic partner. "We have no interest in doing business with Dell whatsoever. By the end of February we are closing out the EqualLogic sales pipeline and picking a new partner."
EqualLogic's largest channel partner, CDW, accounted for about $12.74 million in sales for the nine months ended Sept. 30, according to an S-1 document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Several sources claim that EqualLogic sales reps working on site at CDW are for all practical purposes being frozen out of deals.
CDW won't comment on the status of the Dell EqualLogic relationship. But EqualLogic vice president of marketing John Joseph said the EqualLogic reps are still on site and working with the solution provider to close deals. In fact, he says, the CDW business has not fallen off since the deal was announced last year. "The business relationship continues with CDW," he said. "We're still working out the long term strategy between the two companies."
Joseph said sales through CDW in January had gone "surprisingly well." What's more, he said, EqualLogic had a record fourth quarter with 594 new customers added to its installed base.
Joseph also pledged that EqualLogic partners will find the channel program at Dell just as "lucrative" as it was with EqualLogic. He characterized the Dell acquisition as a "great opportunity" given the computer giant's impressive brand recognition. "Why wouldn't EqualLogic win by leveraging Dell's fantastic brand in the market," he exclaimed. "This is a great thing."
Joseph said there is a wealth of opportunity for both channel partners and Dell direct given that 8.4 million businesses are looking to buy storage solutions. "There is so much opportunity it is beyond comprehension," he said. "We are putting together a program with a level playing field for everyone involved."