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Much of Dell's PartnerDirect program, and its channel success, stems from its Enterprise Architecture partner certification, created after Dell acquired EqualLogic in 2007. At the time, many legacy EqualLogic partners were "boutique storage VARs," said Paul Shaffer, Dell's worldwide channel marketing director. But since then, Dell has expanded the certification thanks to technology purchased through other acquisitions and focused on recruiting new partners from the top 1,000 VARs in the country, Shaffer said.
For example, Dell recently expanded its Enterprise Architecture program to include systems management, due to its acquisition of Kace and that company's systems appliances.
"We've launched a networking certification that encompasses our own line of PowerConnect switches and new networking products through our alliances with Juniper and Brocade and including Aruba now," Davis said. "We have server specialization, storage specialization, networking specialization and systems management specialization. All focus on data center solutions for customers."
Dell is also adding specializations in managed services as well as several vertical markets, Davis said. "We're focused now on shifting away from raw numbers and more about building the certification program out. We've had great success with partners who take training, understand our solutions, become certified, and become invested in Dell," he said.
That includes partners like EveryNetwork, a Burlingame, Calif.-based solution provider that had sold EqualLogic for a number of years but didn't even think about expanding that portfolio until Dell acquired MessageOne, an e-mail SaaS solution, in February 2008. Now MessageOne is a successful part of EveryNetwork's business, said Julie Branc, consulting services manager at the solution provider.
"I've had no pressure from someone saying, 'Do you want to use this solution we have?' I think they've kind of evangelized it and gave us the information in a 'so-you-know' kind of way. But I've not had anybody push me into more than our current relationship is," Branc said.