Dell Partners: Vendor Transparency Needed To Win Deals Amid ‘Growing Supply Chain Threats’

‘I have multiple cases of customers literally changing to a different supplier for end-user devices and servers because they wanted a vendor with a more transparent supply chain,’ says Rick Gouin, CTO at Winslow Technology Group, a Dell Platinum partner.


Dell Technologies partners told CRN that political and military conflicts worldwide now influence domestic IT buying decisions, with customers demanding to know where parts are made before they sign a deal.

“These tend to be larger manufacturers that are having these conversations with us. They’re having us take down all the different vendors in a supply chain, or having us figure out if different vendors are involved in a particular product. We’ve had manufacturers ask for all of that. Dell is able and willing to provide that information,” said Rick Gouin, CTO at Waltham, Mass.-based Winslow Technology Group, a Dell Platinum partner. “It’s a new function for us, but it’s a real differentiator. When I’m trying to bring these solutions to my customers, they want to know that I can answer those questions and that I’ve got the answer they want to hear.”

Gouin said he has only experienced customers asking detailed sourcing questions like this in the past 18 months, topics he said that were generally ignored in the past.

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“Now it’s being customer-led,” he said. “They’re asking for this information, and they’re making choices with their wallet accordingly.”

Dell Technologies’ recent announcement around creating, testing and deploying zero trust environments for customers included comments from Dell CTO John Roese about Dell’s commitment to tracking where every part of of its products are made.

“Our supply chain is generally considered to be one of the most secure large supply chains in the world,” he said. “[We are] adding our Dell safe supply chain offerings to more and more of our customers around the world. Specifically, things like extending tamper-evident seals to Asia-Pacific and EMEA. We’ve had some very advanced capabilities, but they weren’t necessarily globalized. They are more and more becoming globalized.”

To address what it called “growing supply chain threats,” Dell customers can now opt for Dell to disable PC ports prior to shipment to help prevent tampering of BIOS settings.

In addition, firmware protections that hunt for threats include new integration of telemetry between Microsoft Intune, as part of Microsoft Endpoint Manager, and Splunk consoles that can detect tampering.

“If someone modifies a Dell PC in some nefarious way, the PC knows that that is happening, generally is able to detect it and the Microsoft integration allows that information to [be delivered to] tools that already exist in the enterprise environment, generally in a more seamless way,” Roese said.

Josh Lee, director of sales at Nanuet, N.Y.-based VirtuIT Systems, a Dell Titanium partner, said Dell’s supply chain transparency gives his customers one less worry.

“I think it prevents any finger-pointing,” he said. “If there’s an issue, it’s not the hardware provider’.”

Gouin said in the past customers typically didn’t ask about parts sourcing, but “optics” are beginning to influence deals.

“It really coincides with some of the global tensions. There have been changes in the political and global landscape. Customers are trying to avoid, at times, dealing with certain countries or dealing with companies they know are dealing with particular countries. They’re starting to think about optics with what suppliers they use,” he said.

“I have multiple cases of customers literally changing to a different supplier for end-user devices and servers because they wanted a vendor with a more transparent supply chain,” Gouin added.

In addition to its anti-tampering measures, Dell plans to open a Zero Trust Center of Excellence with CyberPoint International and the Maryland Innovation and Security Institute in 2023. The center will be based at DreamPort, the U.S. Cyber Command’s cybersecurity innovation facility.