Channel Coup: Dell Lands Vitagliano In Bid To Boost SMB Partnerships

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Vitagliano's channel roots are critical as the Dell aims to significantly increase its enterprise business as Founder, Chairman and CEO Michael Dell moves to close the company's proposed $24.4 billion leveraged buyout.

"I think Dell's got some very good channel people right now. ... The addition of someone like Frank is more frosting on the cake," said Bruce Geier, president and CEO of Technology Integration Group, a San Diego-based solution provider. "This adds another channel veteran. Frank has a long tenure with the channel working different pieces of the channel, and this will only benefit Dell."

Defoe will now be responsible for large national partners, including direct marketers and global systems integrators, Dell's Davis said.

"Jim has done a terrific job growing our channel business and winning [market] share. We've reached a point where we're ready to invest in additional sales channel leadership," Davis said.

Davis said he has had numerous channel-related conversations with Vitagliano through the years. What's more, he sought advice from Vitagliano as Dell was developing its PartnerDirect program.

Dell started talking about bringing one-time IBM colleague Vitagliano into the fold about two months ago, Davis said.

"Knowing his capabilities, having that relationship, we talk quite often. Any opportunity we had to talk about deal registration or sales coverage or partner programs was something we all try to do. Frank has always been someone I have great respect for," Davis said.

Prior to his time at Juniper, Vitagliano was a popular channel executive at IBM, where he spent 33 years before leaving in 2006 to join Juniper.

Davis also spent 8 years at IBM, including a stint as director of North America channel sales and operations.

Vitagliano joins Dell at a time when the company is at a crossroads. Dell has agreed to a leveraged buyout led by Silver Lake Partners, but it has also received alternative bids from other groups led by The Blackstone Group and Icahn Partners. Negotiations are ongoing, and it's unclear who will own it or whether CEO Michael Dell will remain at the company.

Vitagliano said the proposed buyout did not factor into his decision to join Dell.

"At the end of the day, the things that mattered to me making the decision were, one, the company itself. I've been very fortunate to work for two world-class companies, now a third. That was the No. 1 consideration. The second piece was the commitment to the channel. That's where I made my career. It's what I want to do. That was a very important consideration. Third is obviously the overall value proposition that [Dell] can provide to the marketplace and customers. Those three things made sense," Vitagliano said.

Bob Venero, CEO of Future Tech Enterprises, a Holbrook, N.Y.-based solution provider, said Vitagliano's hire is evidence that Dell is indeed very committed to the channel.

"They're investing in the channel: channel programs, channel people. The more the channel programs mature with Dell, the more it will start to change the DNA for team members that have been a direct focus, the better off it will be," Venero said. "It's a very smart play on their part."

NEXT: The Diverging Needs Of Dell Partners

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