Longtime Dell VAR: The Sky's The Limit With $24.9 Billion Buyout


Peter Estes, the co-founder and president of Axis Business Solutions, one of the first solution providers to pilot the Dell partner program a decade ago, couldn't be happier with Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell's successful $24.9 billion buyout.

"The sky's the limit [now that Dell is private]," said Estes, who sees the buyout opening the door to new acquisitions aimed at building out the Dell portfolio with even more enterprise services and products that his company can sell to customers. "Michael [Dell] is a fighter. He's a proven leader and a visionary."

Dell's channel team is fired up about the ability to provide even greater channel investment without having to bend to the whims of Wall Street, said Estes. He expects Dell to move faster to provide game-changing offerings for customers and the channel.

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Dell is now Axis Business Solutions "most strategic" vendor with the solution provider's Dell sales expected to nearly double to $13 million this year. Estes expects Axis' Dell business to continue to nearly double again in 2014 to $20 million as Dell builds out its enterprise solutions product and services portfolio as a private company. "Dell is our biggest vendor," he said.

Estes credits Dell CEO Michael Dell, the onetime channel antagonist that pioneered direct sales of PCs, for embracing a solution provider business model that is powering big sales growth for partners and Dell itself. "Dell bet on us and we bet on them," he said. "We started the company with a strategic relationship with Dell. The key is the Dell teams we work with are exceptional. They are a great partner with great local resources."

Dell's late entry into the channel has given it an advantage in building tools and offerings for partners that are a step above competitors, said Estes. "That gave Dell the ability to start fresh," he said. "They have better offerings in the channel than other manufacturers. It's been amazing to see the way Dell has embraced the channel from a direct company 10 years ago to what they are doing today."

Estes said his company's big bet on Dell has paid off handsomely for the Portsmouth, N.H.-based Axis, which has leveraged its Dell partnership to provide a full suite of Dell offerings from servers to security with Dell SonicWall, storage with Dell EqualLogic-Compellent, and software management with Quest. "That has helped us provide more solutions to our customers," he said of Dell's acquisition binge.

Estes said his Dell partnership has been critical in growing Axis from a bootstrapped startup with his partner Don Doney to a $30 million company with 35 employees targeting midmarket customers.

Axis is holding its fourth annual Solutions Summit Sept. 12 and 13 at The Cliff House Resort & Spa in Cape Neddick, Maine, hosting about 60 customers. The conference features presentations on not only Dell offerings like PowerEdge servers and SonicWall but also a wide variety of cloud offerings including Microsoft Windows Azure and EVault.

While key technology partnerships with vendors such as Dell are essential, Estes said the key to Axis' sales growth has been its top-notch engineering talent. "It is our people that makes us successful," he said.

PUBLISHED SEPT. 12, 2013