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Dell Channel Chief Mullen On Coronavirus Crisis: ‘This Is A Time When Partners Really Shine’

Dell Technologies partners are proving they have the unique skill sets and vertical industry expertise to help their customers run their business.

One of the largest law firms in the country reached out to IP DataSystems during the coronavirus pandemic in dire need of accelerating its deployment of virtual desktop infrastructure.

“They called pretty frantically,” said Tom Murphy, president and chief operating officer at Ellicott City, Md.-based IP DataSystems, a Dell Technologies Titanium partner. “They would have been in a really bad place if we hadn’t been able to go on-site and implement the solution.”

IP DataSystems was able to quickly roll out eight Dell Technologies hyperconverged VxRail nodes and immediately sent a team on-site to the Baltimore-based law firm to help the business—which was strictly a work-in-the-office-type company—transition into a remote workforce almost overnight.

[RELATED: Michael Dell On The Impact Of Coronavirus, VMware Integration And Networking Share Gains]

“We had our team on-site in their data center standing up this solution so they could enable 3,000 additional remote users. It’s a huge law firm, and they really weren’t prepared to have all of their employees and lawyers pushed out of the office,” said Murphy, who has been providing the law firm with Dell Technologies storage and backup infrastructure solutions for years. “We’re doing all the data center infrastructure to make it work.”

Dell Technologies’ global channel chief Joyce Mullen has witnessed these and other solution provider success stories, proving just how important a role channel partners are playing in combating the pandemic.

“The partners are the bridge to their customers, providing technology that powers hospitals, research centers, technology that improves ventilator efficiency and is helping schools and governments get through this,” said Mullen, president of global channel, embedded and edge solutions at Dell Technologies. “[They are] helping businesses maintain their operations through what none of us ever envisioned in any of our business continuity planning. No one ever plans for the whole world to shut down. I feel like it’s teaching us an awful lot, and it’s putting enormous pressure and focus on technology as a major part of the solution.”

For Dell Technologies partner VirtuIT Systems, being that “bridge” to customers has been crucial as many of the solution provider’s customers are located in New York City, the U.S. epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak. VirtuIT Systems is making sure that its customers’ data, network and employees are secure.

“Our New York City customers have been a lot more frantic, ‘Can you guys help us make sure that our network isn’t going to get stressed or just implode if we have everyone remotely accessing our data? Is everything safe and secure?’” said Josh Lee, director of sales at Nanuet, N.Y.-based VirtuIT Systems.

As businesses need more IT infrastructure to accommodate an at-home workforce, VirtuIT Systems has seen an increase in demand for stand-alone PowerOne servers with VMware on top as well as VxRail as customers adapt to a remote workforce—in many cases for the first time.

“We’re making sure customers have access, their data is secure, their people are safe, employees are retained, and businesses stay afloat,” said Lee.

Making sure employees are retained and businesses stay afloat typically aren’t a solution provider’s responsibility. But the coronavirus pandemic has proven that when push comes to shove, solution providers and IT vendors are among the most important resources for customers today.

When the world needed to push the “fast-forward” button on digital transformation initiatives, Mullen said, Dell Technologies ramped up its efforts to better enable channel partners through the crisis. Throughout March and April, Dell Technologies launched a slew of new financial offerings and support to the channel.

Dell Technologies provided one-time cash payouts for up to 50 percent of current partner Market Development Fund (MDF) and Business Development Fund (BDF) balances for use toward marketing activities, while also allowing MDF in advance to free up cash. The company also waived the fee for services deployment training for VxRail, Unity XT storage and data protection DP4400 infrastructure offerings. In addition, the company offered new team-based training options for partners who had multiple individuals trying to get certified.

Through the hugely popular Dell Financial Services arm, the company is offering new deferred payment schedules and zero up-front costs to help partners preserve capital. Dell Financial Services provided 24-month financing at zero percent interest for servers and select storage products; a six-month term and rotation lease options for select laptops, thin clients and mobile workstations; and three-, six- and potentially nine-month deferrals for customers.

“The new deferrals, quite honestly, are the biggest strategy to getting people back to the table to say, ‘Hey, let’s see if we can push the project forward now because we can defer payments out to three to six months,” said Lee. Although supply chain has been an issue with some vendors during the coronavirus pandemic, Dell Technologies’ strong capabilities and strategy in the arena enabled the company to not skip a beat, said Mullen.

“Nobody anticipated this demand, but we have increased capacity in our supply chain and have been working through supply chain scenarios over the past year because of all the other things going on—everything from tariffs to tornadoes. So our supply chain is strong and resilient to handle this,” said Mullen.

In fact, when Texas Gov. Greg Abbott created a temporary Supply Chain Strike Force to help deal with the coronavirus, Keith Miears, senior vice president of worldwide procurement at Dell Technologies, was named Supply Chain Director for the entire state of Texas.

Dell’s stellar supply chain has helped many partners replace competitive products due to a lack of product supply from others, solution providers said.

IP DataSystems’ Murphy said one customer with 90 regional offices throughout the U.S. needed immediate help in securing laptops for its workers in the field.

“When they went to order about 1,000 laptops ... when the coronavirus started, [one vendor’s] inventory was so low they came to us and we worked with Dell and were able to satisfy that order and get them those laptops,” said Murphy. “They were able to work with Dell to build a system that had a much faster delivery timeline.”

Mullen said partners have been “invaluable” in helping customers get through the coronavirus pandemic due to their unique IT skill sets and vertical-industry-specific knowledge to support education, government and health care.

“This is a time when partners really shine. They know their customers intimately. They understand the industries in which they’re operating,” said Mullen. “They understand how to get them to a point where they are working productively and effectively in an unprecedented environment. It’s clear that our technologies and partners are a very important part of the solution for this particular issue and will be for years to come.”

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