As Michael Dell readies to take his company private he says he's dead set on turning to the channel to fuel the company's future growth.
Speaking at the Best of Breed Conference, hosted by CRN publisher The Channel Company, on Tuesday, Michael Dell tackled several topics during a question and answerer session moderated by Channel Company CEO Robert Faletra. With Dell the company only weeks away from closing its $25 billion privatization deal, CEO Michael Dell rallied VARs Tuesday, promising big things were to come in the near future once the company is freed from the microscope of Wall Street.
"Partners have a played a big part of creating a new Dell over the past five years, helping us move into the data center and selling software, security, systems management, networking and storage," Dell said. "We absolutely want to grow that and expand that and build deeper links to the segment sales and continue to build that knowledge of how to grow together."
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Michael Dell told attendees its channel program represents one third of its commercial business, worth about $15 billion. "I can count the number of companies with that kind of channel business on one hand," Michael Dell said, hammering the point that a healthy channel is good for both his company and partners.
Dell said as a private company he will invest in research and development, focus on beating the competition and on growing his company's 140,000-strong Dell partners program.
Dell partners attending BoB said they appreciated hearing Dell support for the channel. "For Michael Dell to put himself in the hot seat at a partner event speaks volumes at his commitment to the channel," said Cliff Sweazey, executive vice president with Dell partner Innovative Integration of Indianapolis, Ind. Sweazy said Michael Dell was one of the few CEOs in the industry that "actually walked the talk."
Michael Dell answered a broad range of questions including what opportunities his company faced moving forward. The cloud is what the Internet was to IT in 1995, he told attendees. The cloud was forcing business and VARs to take a fresh look at IT the same way the Internet did. "IT is moving away from just being a thing in the back room that you had to have," Dell said. "It's now in the forefront of education, healthcare and retail."
Convergent infrastructure of the enterprise, Michael Dell said, is what the new Dell help VARs take advantage of. With Carl Icahn and his privatization battle now in the rear view mirror, Michael Dell said, now he can focus on bringing together his acquisition – including Quest, Wyse, SonicWALL and others – into one seamless solution for partners offer customers.
"It will be interesting to see how close Dell the company can get to Michael's vision," said Steven Reese, chief technology officer at Sigmanet. "They have a lot of good ideas and they have good channel people like Frank Vitagliano and Greg Davis, but they still need to execute. I don't think they're going all in with the channel just yet, but they've made a lot of progress and they're getting a lot better."
Reese also said he hopes being a private company will help Dell's acquisition strategy and enable the company to get more long term value out of acquired technology instead of focusing on short term gains and cost cutting to appease shareholders. "They have a real opportunity to make that technology acquisition process better and really make it work for the company's long-term vision," he said.