The New Dell-SonicWall Meets The Channel


One day after Dell completed its acquisition of security vendor SonicWall, executives from both companies hosted a conference call with channel partners to provide an initial sense of direction. Much of the discussion focused on affirmation that Dell, a former direct sales juggernaut, has, in recent years, developed a profound appreciation and commitment to the channel.

“About $13 billion of our commercial revenue comes through the channel,” said Greg Davis, vice president of global commercial channels at Dell, on the partner call. “And with 120,000 registered partners in 140 countries, we are focused on being easy to work with for competent and capable channel partners.”

The discussion then turned to a cross-comparison of the two companies’ respective channel programs. Davis added that in developing the transition plan, the company intended to make the requirements for SonicWall partners either comparable or better than what they had experienced under the previous management. The main message is that the channel is here to stay, as far as Dell is concerned.

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But some partners aren’t necessarily convinced.

“We pretty much severed our ties with SonicWall as soon as we heard the news about the acquisition,” Doug Church, principal at Salisbury, Maryland-based Vantage Point Solutions Group, LLC, told CRN. “We used to do a lot of business with Dell, but moved away from them two years ago when we started seeing our customers being taken direct. We also weren’t all that happy with the way the channel program was structured.”

Church also sees the proverbial writing-on-the-wall that suggests Dell might be pondering a return to its direct sales heritage. “If you look at their recent acquisitions, you’ll see them putting together the connectivity piece, the thin client piece, the managed services piece, and now the security piece. Add that together with Dell’s hardware business and you start to see a cloud strategy that could enable them to lock-out the channel.”

Other partners seem more willing to give Dell the benefit of the doubt for the time being, at least.

“We’re not sure we care,” Tom Snyder, co-founder and chief operating officer of Oakland-based Xantrion, a reseller of both Dell and SonicWall products, told CRN. “We’ve been able to sell SonicWall when they were independent and we’ll be able to sell SonicWall now that they are part of Dell. We just want to see improvements to channel support.”

As is the case with any corporate acquisition, it will take a period of time for the combined strategies to coalesce into a more unified value proposition. The channel will monitor that progress with a watchful eye.