EMC's Ambulos: No Decision On Who Will Run Dell Technologies' Channel After Merger

Dell's acquisition of EMC could be finalized anytime in the next five months, but a decision about whether EMC's Gregg Ambulos or Dell's Cheryl Cook will lead the combined companies' channel hasn't been made.

"That's something that is yet to be decided," EMC channel chief Gregg Ambulos told CRN during the annual EMC World conference in Las Vegas this week. "I anticipate based upon what Michael and his team are saying, that hopefully by the time the deal comes together, they'll make that announcement."

"We're still two separate companies right now, and I'm just keeping my head down and working hard, and so is my counterpart," Ambulos said. "Until the deal comes down, we're still independent companies and we're operating that way."

[Related: EMC World: Dell Technologies' Channel Program Will Look A Lot Like EMC's, Says EMC Channel Chief]

Ambulos said he and Cook are prohibited from contacting each other by U.S. Securities and Exchange regulations governing the merger process.

"I'm an EMC employee, and our businesses are separate," Ambulos said. "I have not sat down with Cheryl and had any formal planning sessions. I can't. We're independent and it's going to stay that way until the merger comes to a close."

Michael Goldstein, CEO of LAN Infotech, a Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based solution provider that works with both Dell and EMC, said it's a challenge for partners to remain patient as the merger progresses despite the desire to have answers on channel leadership and what shape the combined program will take.

"We all want to know where things will settle, but we understand that it's such a big undertaking that it might take longer than anticipated," Goldstein said. "Most of us want to figure out what's going to happen. We'd all like to see something come to the period at the end of the sentence."

If he had to choose, though, Goldstein said he would rather the combined program take on a decidedly more Dell flavor, he said.

"EMC is definitely a little tough," Goldstein said. "Dell's program has been end-user-focused and it's easier to use the tools. I have success with the Dell structure, and I'd like to see EMC meld into that. It would be easier to do business. Hopefully it just goes as smoothly as it seems to be. It's just such a big thing, there's so many pieces. It's going to take time and the community just has to be patient."

The two companies are expected to come together in a merger valued at about $60 billion sometime before the end of October. The deal will create a nearly $80 billion global IT powerhouse, and so far only top-level executive positions have been announced.

Ambulos told CRN the Dell and EMC channel programs will be run separately immediately after the deal closes, but will be consolidated into one program that closely resembles EMC's during 2017.

Ambulos has been with EMC for nearly 20 years. He started with the Hopkinton, Mass.-based data storage giant in 1997 as an area sales manager in Dallas. A year later, he was divisional vice president of sales. He was promoted to his current role, senior vice president of worldwide channel sales, in 2001.

Ambulos is responsible for EMC's distribution, direct marketing and national reseller relationships. Last year, Ambulos rejiggered EMC's Business Partner Program for the first time in about 10 years, and early this year, he implemented several further changes, including increased payout percentages, integration of the VCE partner program, optimized training and enablement, simplified deal registration and other changes aimed at making it easier to do business with EMC.

Cook became Dell's vice president of global channels and alliances in 2013, after about two years as the Round Rock, Texas-based company's vice president of enterprise solutions. Cook spent about 15 years at Sun Microsystems and about a year at Nuance before joining Dell in 2011.

Like Ambulos, Cook made several changes this year to her company's partner program -- Dell's PartnerDirect -- including increased rebates and growth accelerators for partners that boost business in storage, networking, servers, PCs and software. In some cases, those incentives doubled. Dell also updated several of the PartnerDirect program's competencies.

EMC brought in about $25 billion in revenue in its most recent fiscal year, and it did about 60 percent of that business through the channel. Dell's revenue for its most recent fiscal year was about $55 billion. It did about 40 percent of that through the channel.

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