Dell Technologies World 2024: Five Biggest Partner Announcements

'For those partners who are building meaningful AI capabilities, we’re giving you access to Dell-validated designs,' Dell Technologies' Denise Millard told partners this week. 'We’re doing the engineering to make sure those deployments are repeatable and scalable, and you don’t have to figure it out on your own. We’re giving you access to Dell Solutions Centers where we’re showcasing these AI workloads and use cases. We’re helping our partners build AI labs so they can run proof-of-concepts so you can help your customers accelerate their AI journey.'

Dell Technologies’ channel partners contributed about half of the company’s net revenue last year, and from the head of the company’s market-dominant infrastructure solutions group, to the head of its global sales team to the partner chief, company officials are in lock-step in saying that those resellers are going to be vital to building out the AI systems that define the next phase of technology.

“Partners are incredibly important to us,” Arthur Lewis, president of Dell Technologies Infrastructure group, told CRN today at Dell Technologies World 2024. “We want to make sure that we have the right motion to collaborate in the field and win deals together … On our part, we’re going to tell the reps we prefer the channel for this motion.”

Dell Technologies Chief Partner Officer Denise Millard said Dell is bringing the infrastructure, services, partnerships, and capabilities together in one place to make the hardware and software that combine to create AI deployments attainable and scalable for partners.

“Our AI strategy is simple,” she said during a partner breakout session Monday afternoon. “It’s about bringing AI to your data.”

Dell has created facets for partners to add value at all stages of their customer’s AI adoption process. From the beginning when partners consult with the customer about data cleansing and preparation, to hardware and software choices, data location, installation, modeling, testing proof of concepts, down to the AI-enabled PCs that inference the model’s orchestration layer.

Millard announced this week even closer collaboration with the channel in that Dell partners can now register deals on client device PCs, laptops, and peripherals. Partners told CRN they are thrilled with the opportunities they have seen emerge from the show.

“We’re seeing a new wave of channel value that’s going to be unlocked,” said Gary McConnell, CEO of VirtuIT, a Dell Platinum partner. “Just as the channel architects, deploys, and manages infrastructure for customers today, this takes it a step further with the AI roadmap now on the table for the channel. The channel is one of the greatest sales forces for manufacturers and will be able to bring faster time-to-value in addition to better education for customers as they go down their AI journey. “

Millard said Dell is giving partners all the tools they need to build an AI practice that brings AI compute, AI storage, AI networking, and enablement services, running the AI workloads and models to where the data sits: on prem, across the cloud, at the edge, or on the end-users’ device.

“For those partners who are building meaningful AI capabilities, we’re giving you access to Dell-validated designs,” she said. “We’re doing the engineering to make sure those deployments are repeatable and scalable and you don’t have to figure it out on your own. We’re giving you access to Dell solutions centers where we’re showcasing these AI workloads and use cases. We’re helping our partners build AI labs so they can run proof-of-concepts so you can help your customers accelerate their AI journey.”

Dell is also creating AI competencies, third-party training, and AI certifications, all of which builds credit towards richer levels of partnership, Millard said.

“When partners are part of the network and they do all of these things they can accelerate their metal tier status too,” she said.

Dell’s partner focus has become more intense since it introduced Partner First For Storage last August. The program incentivizes Dell’s core sellers to close storage deals through channel partners in the hopes of capturing more of the storage market which is a $13 billion opportunity in mid-range alone, Millard said. Partners have thus far lavished praise on the initiative. Millard said the early results of the program are promising.

“We just concluded our advisory boards, where I would say our partners are seeing really strong engagement from our field sellers,” she told CRN. “That’s all in the spirit of being predictable and trusted with our partners.”

Here are the top five partner announcements at Dell Technologies World 2024.

PowerStore Prime

PowerStore Prime combines Dell’s most comprehensive PowerStore release with new programs and incentives, Dell’s VP of product marketing Shannon Champion told CRN.

“We’ve seen incredible momentum in the marketplace,” Champion said. “We’ve earned rave reviews from customers and partners and analysts based on the value that we’re delivering. Now we’re delivering even more advantages across those four categories that you see along the bottom. Multiple kinds of performance boosts. We’re meeting growing workload requirements here. We get a 30 percent performance boost for mixed workloads from the software alone.”

Storage transactions through the channel are now more profitable for Dell partners. And PowerStore Prime is offered through the Partner First For Storage model, which Dell unveiled last year that incentivizes Dell’s core sales teams to close storage deals through channel partners.

While the software side can also deliver 20-percent less latency as well the performance really improves when new hardware is part of the update.

“So PowerStore Prime can deliver up to 66 percent hardware-based performance boost when you upgrade data in place to the next-gen node or controller,” Champion told CRN. “So that’s on the performance side. Efficiency is huge. We are doing that a few different ways too. We’re introducing the PowerStore 3200Q. This is the industry’s most flexible QLC (quad-level cell) offering.”

Quad-level cell storage is the most dense storage available giving a larger overall capacity in the same physical space, but Dell says its industry-best 5-to-1 compression makes that event better.

“The second way we’re delivering efficiently here is with that data reduction,” Champion said. “Twenty-percent improvement in data reduction for all power store models. That obviously helps with overall energy costs. You require fewer drives to pack the same amount of data in. That’s also based on a software driven capability enhancement in PowerStore Prime.”

Building on the PowerStore’s scalable architecture Dell has increased performance, resiliency and multi-cloud data mobility through a software update, the seventh update since it was released four years ago and the latest since last fall. Through a non-invasive code update, existing and new PowerStore customers can run storage at a higher efficiencies with lower latency than prior updates.

PowerStore and PowerStore select bundles are made to streamline pricing quotes to customers. Dell has also opened 99 percent of its own customers up to partners leaving the door open to an immense market opportunity, Millard said.

Dell APEX Advances

Champion said in the year since the prior Dell Technologies World, Dell Technologies has made good on bringing the eight new Apex offers it introduced at that show, to market.

“We’re in all the major cloud ecosystem partners. We have delivered over 500 advancements against those offers across the entire portfolio and we’re available in 134 countries now.”

This year she said the focus is on building capabilities in multicloud.

“The two updates are the Apex Navigator is expanding to include additional support for Apex storage for public cloud, and Kubernetes storage management. Navigator for multicloud storage side we’re adding support for Apex file storage for AWS now, and Azure soon,” she said.

The Dell Solution for Microsoft Azure AI is built to speed up the development of AI business usecases such as transcription and translation services, and it is built on the Dell Apex Cloud Platform for Microsoft Azure.

Dell Apex For Kubernetes On PowerFlex

Dell recently announced enhancements to the Dell Apex Cloud Platform for Red Hat OpenShift to address AI use cases in that environment. That gave partners integrated, automated and purpose-built GPU infrastructure, validated designs, and a roadmap for organizations to quickly design business outcomes. The jointly engineered application delivery platform was purpose-built for Red Hat OpenShift.

“On the Kubernetes data storage side, we know storage admins can’t be an expert in everything,” Champion said. “The Apex navigator for Kubernetes gives them an easy way to get started. You can on-board a Kubernetes cluster in five minutes. You can start an app mobility job in under 60 seconds. These are tests that we did on Dell PowerFlex, which is supported today for Apex navigator for Kubernetes. We’ll be adding support for Apex cloud platform for RedHat and PowerScale later in the year.”

Dell Apex AI Ops

In any other year, or at any other time, no rational person would recommend that engineers talk to their servers and storage to understand the data’s quirks, or its wants and needs, but here we are.

Dell said its AIOps tools for Apex give technicians full-stack observability and incident management. It simplifies operations, improving IT agility and delivers greater control over applications and infrastructure.

“It’s GenAI-powered so basically users can talk to their infrastructure,” Champion told CRN. “Users can get quick, reliable, simple answers and .. you can ask it follow-up questions the same way you would use any AI language model.

She said Dell has been delivering AI-powered infrastructure with cloud IQ for nearly a decade.

“Now we’re expanding that. Adding more observability and more AI insights,” Champion said. “So there’s three elements. Infrastructure observability is resolving Dell on prem or Apex multicloud infrastructure issues. Application observability is a new capability that’s been added to solve application specific performance issues; and incident management is a new element that’s reducing customer reported multi-vendor or multi-cloud issues.”

Client Partner of Record

Millard said Dell’s omni-channel business model with a strong partner ecosystem at the core is central to the company’s growth strategy. She said to increase predictability and protect partners’ investments in acquisition, Dell is expanding its server and storage partner of record programs to include client.

“Based on your feedback we’re now including client when you bring new business to Dell,” she said. “We’re also evolving our partner program to build capabilities in strategic solution areas. This is giving our partners access to higher tiers and earning potential when they make those investments in solution capabilities.”

She said if a Dell sales team uncovers a client deal in an account that has a partner of record, they will work with that partner on the deal. This approach embraces the power of collaboration to drive better business outcomes and deliver strong collective results, she said.