Dell's (Yes, Dell's) Vitagliano Talks About His New Role

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It was a stunning move when Frank Vitagliano announced he was leaving Juniper Networks after seven years. But that may have been trumped by the news he was hired by Dell. Vitagliano, a longtime channel icon with nearly 40 years of experience, spoke with CRN's Scott Campbell about why he joined Dell and what he plans to bring to the company. The following are excerpts from the conversation.

You spent seven successful years at Juniper, so why Dell, why now?

I worked Juniper for seven years. It was a great run, a terrific company with frankly a lot of great colleagues and friends there. But, it was time for me to do something else. It's really more about where I'm going to vs. where I'm going from. I'm kind of excited because I've been watching what's been going on with Dell for a while.

I've watched them for years and in the early days really admired what they were doing. It transformed the PC business. Over the last couple years, I've watched very closely their acquisition strategy and what's been going on in terms of the transformation with the company. The last piece, the piece that really got me excited was Greg Davis [Dell's vice president and general manager of global channels]. I've known him for a long time and been really impressed with the job he and Jim [DeFoe, vice president of global commercial channels sales and programs] have been doing. They're really becoming a major channel player, and I've watched that evolve over the last three or four years or so. All of that got me pretty excited to go over.

How long had you talked with Dell about joining the company?

I've known Greg for years. We worked together at IBM. We've been channel chiefs together for a while. We always kind of catch up when we see each other and talk about what's going on in the industry, the transformation they were making. We talked quite frequently. In the last 60 days or so, it started to get serious. Once I started my exit from Juniper, it was pretty clear that there was an opportunity for us.

Looking back at your time at IBM, could you ever have envisioned then that you would eventually join Dell, who was something of the direct devil at the time, both to IBM but also to the channel?

I've learned over the years never say never about anything, particularly in this industry. We've seen a lot of stuff happen. I admired Dell for years. Competing with them was very frustrating. They did transform that business. I'm a strong believer in the channel. They still touch customers with a direct sales force, but they've added the leverage of go-to-market strategy with the channel.

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