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CRN Exclusive: 'Task Force' Considering Full VMware, SecureWorks Membership In Dell EMC Partner Program

Solution providers see a possible "big win" if Dell EMC can fold VMware into its partner program while maintaining its independence and simplifying its sales operation.

In an effort to simplify Dell EMC's go-to-market strategy, an executive task force is considering rolling VMware and SecureWorks into the company's unified channel partner program.

Dell EMC Senior Vice President of Channel Marketing Cheryl Cook told CRN a "go-to-market task force" is looking at bringing VMware and SecureWorks into the larger Dell EMC program, but hasn't reached any decisions. "It's too soon to announce anything," Cook said. In addition, "we're sitting in each other's advisory councils, and leadership sessions and we're trying to be thoughtful," Cook said.

Indeed, careful thought is required. VMware is an independent firm, and essentially neutral in the market, working with Dell EMC as well as all of its competitors. If Dell EMC can fold VMware into its partner program while maintaining that independence and simplifying its sales operation, it could be a big win for solution providers, said Michael Tanenhaus, CEO of Mavenspire, an Annapolis, Md., solution provider that works with Dell EMC.

[Related: 14 Rocking, Plaid-Clad Scenes That Show Dell EMC World Was The Biggest Party In Vegas]

"There's a desire to monetize the combined power of the strategically aligned companies under the larger program, and that is awesome," Tanenhaus said. He said making VMware part of the Dell EMC channel program would make it easier for Mavenspire to do more business across the Dell EMC portfolio.

VMware, which was 80-percent owned by EMC when Dell acquired the data storage giant for $58 billion last September, seems to be embracing its membership in the Dell Technologies family of companies, Tanenhaus said. "They're at every Dell event, and they're definitely keeping a close conversation going. For us, it reduces friction and it makes it easier to do more business."

Still, fully becoming part of the Dell EMC partner program may not be simple for VMware, Tanenhaus said. "You have to get the sales force at VMware interested and compensated for it. If you can do that, and have everything under one global partner compensation scheme, you can maximize rebates and it wouldn't be a political nightmare," he said.

Dell EMC's channel team is aggressively pushing solution providers to sell more broadly across the company's extensive portfolio, and the program encourages that explicitly. Bringing the two additional business units, especially VMware, into the fold could push partners to double down on the portfolio, said Ryan Heiden, principal systems engineer at RoundTower Technologies, a Cincinnati-based solution provider.

"I think it would be a big win," Heiden said. "As much as you can simplify it, the better. The portfolio is so diverse. If each one of them has a separate process, it's just going to get out of control quickly. The portfolio they have is best of breed in a lot of cases. The name, the trust, the quality, it really resonates with customers in a lot of cases."

Executives, Cook said, are looking at how the company's go-to-market strategy can be simplified, but they're also cognizant of the fact that Dell EMC and VMware have many common partners that successfully use both programs. "There's a natural affinity, and we will only enhance the 'better together' story," Cook said. "If we can simplify by integrating programs in some fashion, or even if it's loosely coupled, there's more cross incentives that align. Right now, let's not bite off more than we can chew."

While Cook takes a wait-and-see approach, President and Chief Commercial Officer Marius Haas sees no reason why VMware and SecureWorks shouldn't become full-fledged members of the Dell EMC Partner Program.

"RSA is in there, Virtustream is in; why can't we make it as easy and simple for VMware?" Haas said during the Global Partner Summit at Dell EMC World in Las Vegas. "Why can't we make it as easy and simple for SecureWorks? Why can't we make it easy and simple for all parts of the portfolio? It makes it easier for [partners] to address the customer with a holistic set of capabilities, and that conversation absolutely resonates. Every single customer, no matter what size, is going through some kind of transformation, and it's our job to make that as simple as possible."

The deliberations follow closely behind Dell EMC's recent decision to bring Virtustream fully into the company's partner program. The company rolled RSA into the program previously. VMware and SecureWorks are the only two units in the Dell Technologies family – Dell, Dell EMC, VMware, Pivotal, RSA, Virtustream, SecureWorks and VMware – that retain their own separate channel programs.

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