Channel Gung-Ho Over Microsoft's Dell Investment


It's a game changer.

That's what solution provider partners are calling a potential $3 billion Microsoft investment in a bid to take Dell private in a leveraged buyout.

Solution providers, in fact, say the potential investment could result in big sales and profit gains for them as they develop tighter, more strategic enterprise solutions relationships with the two industry giants.

[Related: 6 Reasons Dell Should Go Private]

Peter Estes, co-founder and president of Axis Business Solutions, one of Dell's fastest growing partners headquartered in Portsmouth, N.H., said he expects sharp increases in both his Dell and Microsoft business if the deal goes through.

"My hope is we would see our Microsoft business go from 5 percent growth to the 25 to 30 percent range," he said. "We are very strategic with Dell. We sell the Dell client [systems], storage, networking, services and Dell Cloud. If they can deliver a stronger Microsoft relationship, our Microsoft numbers will go up. This has the potential to be a real game-changer for us."

Estes said his Dell business was up 50 percent in 2012 to $7 million, and he expects to double that business to $14 million in 2013 in the wake of Dell's transformation to a full enterprise solutions company with offerings that include EqualLogic Compellent in storage, SonicWall in security and Brocade in networking products.

Bob Venero, CEO of FutureTech, a Holbrook, N.Y.-based solution provider whose Dell business was up 400 percent in 2012, expects to see even greater growth this year if Dell goes private.

"I believe that we can be more strategic and creative with Dell in a private environment than if they are public. If this deal happens, we should see exponential growth beyond what we have seen today in our Dell business," Venero said. "I believe private companies can have more stable and consistent channel relationships because they are not always under the scrutiny of external requirements to support a publicly held model. If Dell wants to create a unique channel program with a subset of partners, it is a hell of a lot easier to do that as a private company than as a public company."

According to a report by CNBC, Microsoft is in talks to become a "mezzanine" -- or preferred financing partner -- for between $1 billion and $3 billion in Dell's reported plan to move ahead with a private equity-backed leveraged buyout.

Dell has reportedly had discussions with private equity firm Silver Lake Partners along with several financing organizations about going private, a move that could require up to $20 billion, according to reports.

Dell and Microsoft would not comment.

Estes said the deal could improve margins all around in an industry where end-of-the-quarter discounting has become common place for vendors trying to hit quarterly sales targets as publicly held companies. Tight-fisted business customers fight for bigger discounts at the end of each quarter as IT vendors scramble to make sales targets. "The business community has come to expect it," said Estes.

NEXT: Partners Applaud Dell CEO Michael Dell's Channel Leadership