Problematic Portal Forces Dell EMC To Waive Federal Partner Training Requirements

Dell EMC is waiving training requirements for federal channel partners as it grapples with still more difficulties in its online partner portal.

In an email to partners Friday, Dell EMC Federal Channel Directors Jeff Simanski and Elliott Williams explain that many partners are unable to access training. "This is a global issue," the directors say. "Dell EMC has put all hands on deck to fix the issue. We do not have a time frame on when the issue will be resolved."

In the memo obtained by CRN, Simanski and Williams don't say specifically what kind of problems are preventing partners from accessing training through Dell EMC's online partner portal. A top executive at a Dell EMC Titanium-level federal solution provider told CRN the problem is more related to the integration of the Dell and EMC training programs than it is to the portal itself.

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"It's been – how many months? – and nobody can train, but it's not the portal itself, it's integration," the solution provider executive said. "They need to synchronize the two systems together. They had a lot of challenges to that, and it's taking time to figure out how to do that."

The result is that not every training course is available to partners, but the solution provider executive said he's encouraging his teams to take whatever training the portal will make available.

"We're going to do all the training we can anyway," the solution provider executive said. "We've trained our staff, and we're teaching our people, if you have time available for training, click on it. Don't get stuck. If something doesn't work, just pick another subject."

Partners will not be expected to meet training requirements for program tier eligibility in Dell EMC's 2018 fiscal year, which ends Feb. 2. Those requirements will be in place for the 2019 fiscal year, Simanski and Williams say in the note.

Training and certifications make up the foundation of partner efforts to maintain or advance their status within the Dell EMC partner program. The partner portal is the only way for solution providers to access training.

As Dell's $58 billion acquisition of EMC neared, Channel Chief John Byrne pushed partners to complete training programs and prepare for the lofty tier revenue requirements that were coming. Dell EMC organized its new, unified program into Gold, Platinum and Titanium tiers and "status-matched" partners into those tiers, giving them a year to hit their new, aggressive revenue targets.

Dell EMC's federal channel program is technically separate from, but closely mirrors, its commercial program. The new, unified federal program was launched just before the new, commercial program went live early this year.

Dell EMC's online partner portal has been problematic from the beginning. The system was designed as a central location for partners to do training, automate and track rebates, certifications, program advancement and other vital aspects of life in the Dell EMC program. It very quickly became apparent that the system wasn't ready for prime time when it launched in February and partners had difficulty navigating the system.

Byrne owned up to the problems, acknowledging that some partners "had massive problems" with the portal, and highlighting his team's efforts to spend "24 hours a day, seven days a week working to resolve those problems."

Dell EMC has not yet replied to CRN with further comment on this story.

The chief executive of a national Dell EMC data center solution provider, also a Titanium tier Dell EMC partner, said that since the acquisition, Dell EMC channel leaders have been very good at solving problems for partners. "The channel relationship with Dell has been shockingly wonderful," the partner executive said. "Whatever they promise, they deliver. It's almost so good that I'm afraid to jinx it. It has really been where if we have an issue, it gets resolved. They are really coming through for us."

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