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CRN Exclusive: Michael Dell Focused On 'Products And Customers And Partners' To Drive Growth, Share Gains

Dell's approach is heartening to both customers and partners, especially in the six months since Dell's $58 billion acquisition of EMC.

Ask Dell Technologies Chairman and CEO what his priorities are, and the answer is clear: "Products and customers and partners."

"This week, all week, I'm in New York City. I happen to be on the other side of the river at the moment in New Jersey. I'm about to go see a customer with a partner," Dell told CRN in an exclusive interview.

He continued: "I'm spending time in the field with customers and partners. Next week I'll be back in Boston. I'll be on the West Coast the first part of the week with VMware and Pivotal. I spend time with our customers, and partners and with our R&D teams. That's what I like to do. The other stuff, let the other guys do that."

Dell's approach is heartening to both customers and partners, especially in the six months since Dell's $58 billion acquisition of EMC. When it closed, the transaction made the company the largest privately held technology firm in the world.

[Related: CRN Exclusive: Michael Dell On Making The Most Of Industry Consolidation, The Channel Program's Fast Start And VMware's Position In The Container Market]

"When you're a customer, and you can shake his hand and talk to someone who is a great technologist, and really talk to him, how many Michael Dells are there in the world?" said Steve Hipskind, CEO of Hipskind Technology Solutions Group, an Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., solution provider.

"What's the value to an organization to meet Michael Dell or Bill Gates or Larry Ellison? It eliminates fear, knowing they have access," Hipskind said.

"I get it from Michael Dell that he's focusing on partners, and I get it from the channel teams out there that they're focusing on us and on very specific actions," he said.

The access to Dell and a Dell EMC channel team that has so far been successful at taking the guesswork out of partners' go-to-market strategies has allowed solution providers to focus on growth, said Hipskind, who said his firm is predicting 35 percent year-over-year growth in 2017.

"We're really seeing a breadth of products that adds tons of opportunities for us in the marketplace," Hipskind said. "It's pure product sales, but it's also using some of their products and integrating them into our services offerings and our cloud. We're having success pretty quickly. They're getting it done. It's fun to watch. The execution is there."

Dell Technologies' drive to engage customers and partners and its efforts to grow across its broad portfolio are coming into focus as the market consolidates. Dell's acquisition of EMC and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise's recent acquisitions of hyper-convergence start-up SimpliVity and flash storage start-up Nimble Storage are just some examples of the trend where a few big names are getting bigger each day.

"Customer and partners see strength in the portfolio, and they're coming with us to do a lot more," Dell said. "We're selling, let's say, three of eight major product lines to a customer, and they say, 'Why don't I just buy all eight from you?' That's happening in a significant way.

"I think the consolidation is going to keep going. The problem is there can only be one No. 1. With the combination of Dell EMC, VMware, and the rest of the family, we're in a very strong position.

"Reaction from partners has been over-the-top positive. In my interactions with partners on a regular basis, they're very pleased. We listened to them; we took their feedback, we designed a thoughtful program that meets their needs. They're engaged."

Among Dell Technologies' recent success stories, Dell said, are its all-flash line, which saw 97 percent growth and a $4 billion demand run rate in the company's fiscal fourth quarter, which ended Feb. 3.

Dell also touted 20 percent growth in notebooks, a $1 billion run rate for VMware's NSX business, a $400 million run rate for the VxRail hyper-convergence solution, 26 percent year-over-year growth at SecureWorks and Pivotal bookings up nearly 130 percent.

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