Dell Eyes Single Channel Program After EMC Acquisition

Dell said it intends to move forward with a single channel program after it closes its planned $67 billion acquisition of EMC.

"[EMC has] a strong channel program, and we're going to make sure that as we move that along it becomes one channel program to make it extremely healthy and both strategic [and] growth-oriented economically, and attractive for all of our partners together," Dell COO and President of Enterprise Operations Marius Haas told CRN in an interview during the recent Dell World conference in Austin, Texas.

Dell has integrated the channel programs of eight acquired companies -- EqualLogic, KACE, Compellent, Force10 Networks, AppAssure, SonicWall, Wyse Technology and Quest Software -- into Dell PartnerDirect since 2007.

[Related: Tucci On Dell-EMC Deal: 'I Am Confident Deal Complexities Will Be Worked Out']

It hasn't always been easy, and Dell channel executives have acknowledged in the past that integrating disparate, competitive programs has been a challenge.

But partners say the Round Rock, Texas, company has done an impressive job of bringing outside programs into the fold, despite some early issues some said they experienced after Dell's acquisition of SonicWall.

"I don't know how they're doing it, but they're doing a good job of it," Mike Hadley, CEO of Boston-based Dell partner iCorps, told CRN. iCorps is primarily a Dell shop and works closely with EqualLogic and SonicWall. iCorps also sells EMC.

"I was very concerned about SonicWall," Hadley said. "We used to compete very heavily with Dell and it was very frustrating, but Dell now is more in line with the channel. The integration of these companies into their brand has been impressive, and I'm not easily impressed. If there's one company I feel comfortable taking on [EMC's] products and services, it's definitely Dell."

Michael Crean, president of Solutions Granted, a Woodbridge, Va.-based Dell security partner that came to Dell in the SonicWall acquisition, told CRN there were parts of Dell's integration plan that "I was adamantly opposed to because my go-to-market [with SonicWall] was so easy, so straightforward and so convenient. But, given the opportunity, we see that it has been a good change."

Crean said the past two years have been especially strong for Dell and the channel.

"There's been more collaboration, more talking, more engagement with executives and senior staff. It's been a good, strong two years of Michael Dell's strong support of the channel," he said.

As they stand now, Dell and EMC's partner programs do have certain similarities.

Each has three tiers – Registered, Preferred and Premier for Dell's PartnerDirect program and Silver, Gold and Platinum for EMC's Business Partner Program – and each acts as a single program overseeing a wide range of business units.

About 40 percent of Dell's annual revenue comes through the channel, according to the company. EMC, Hopkinton, Mass., said more than 60 percent of its annual revenue comes through the channel.

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EMC has more than 5,000 registered partners worldwide. Dell, which established its channel program in 2008, has about 4,000 certified partners.

Dell, meanwhile, plans to invest "tens of millions" of dollars in its program next year, specifically in its online quoting system, MDF rebate automation, an enhanced online portal and other efforts, according to the company.