EMC Says Partner-Led Sales Are Booming, But Must Change, In Run-Up To Merger With Dell

EMC’s Scott Millard

EMC executives made the case this week for taking the channel lead after the completion of its acquisition by Dell by detailing how much the company's indirect sales have grown in the past year -- and suggesting how partners should go forward with new technology.

To a packed room at the EMC Global Partner Summit, Scott Millard, vice president of sales for EMC's Americas channel, acknowledged that sales since EMC last updated its channel program have not always been easy, but said the company and its channel have overcome questions stemming from the pending acquisition.

"Despite all the challenges in the market, I feel we're on a roll," Millard said at the summit, held in conjunction with EMC World in Las Vegas. "Through 2015 and the first quarter in 2016, you outperformed North American sales overall."

[Related: EMC World: David Goulden Lays Out EMC's Private, Public, Hybrid Cloud Strategy]

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Millard said EMC's indirect sales for many of its key products have increased significantly over the past year.

For instance, he said, VCE's channel business grew 35 percent year over year in the first quarter, and 85 percent of that business was channel-led. VCE's new VxRail hyper-converged infrastructure solutions, which have sold out since their February introduction, were led by channel partners in 96 percent of sales, he said.

EMC's XtremIO all-flash storage array sales last quarter rose 47 percent year over year, with 67 percent of sales being channel-led, Millard said. Sales of the Isilon scale-out NAS line rose 27 percent year over year, with 65 percent of those sales partner-led.

Even EMC's high-end VMAX array, typically a direct sales play for the vendor, did well for the channel, Millard said. Normally, well over half of VMAX sales are done via EMC's direct sales team, but after last quarter's introduction of the all-flash storage version, about 66 percent of sales were partner-led, he said.

Overall, if service provider partners are included, about 77 percent of EMC's sales went through the channel, Millard said.

"Our partners are truly driving our products to the modern data center," he said.

Millard echoed the thoughts of other EMC executives, including Gregg Ambulos, senior vice president of global channel sales, by telling partners that, after Dell completes its acquisition of EMC, the combined channel program will eventually be one that looks more like the current EMC program.

That is in line with what some EMC channel partners have heard.

Bob Olwig, vice president of business strategy at World Wide Technology, a St. Louis-based solution provider and channel partner to both EMC and Dell, said he has been told that Dell Technologies will eventually lean more toward the EMC channel program as the companies come together.

"That's great news for us, since we're more heavily into EMC," Olwig told CRN.

Olwig said the combination of EMC and Dell will be even better for channel partners going forward.

"One plus one equals three," he said. "You have to look at the different value segments and how the two companies dominate in them. There's very little overlap product-wise. To me, the combination broadens the opportunity to sell into our customer base. It will be easier to work with one channel team and one channel program."

Jeremy Burton, EMC's president of products and marketing, told partners that they are key to applying new architectures including flash storage, cloud-enabled platform, scale-out platforms and software-defined technologies to help customers modernize their IT.

"Modernizing the IT infrastructure is a no-regrets move to get on the way to building the cloud environment," Burton said.

A big part of that modernization is the increasing use of converged infrastructure, Burton said.

Converged infrastructure is the sweet spot in remote office and department deployments, he said. "I suspect that's why VxRail is flying off the shelves. … When we get together with Dell and Get Dell servers in there, we'll have a very great offering," he said.

Millard's and Burton's comments fit what Sirius Computer Solutions is seeing, said Ben Hoch, director of infrastructure services for the San Antonio, Texas-based solution provider and EMC channel partner.

"What EMC is telling us, we began to see it in the last six to 12 months," Hoch told CRN. "The shift in IT spending is happening. Our primary storage business is strong, but in terms of proofs of concepts, customers are looking for converged infrastructure, hyper-converged infrastructure, and public cloud options."