Fistfuls Of Growth: Dell EMC's Expanded Product Portfolio Paves New Paths For Partners

Dell EMC partners serving clients from small businesses to federal government agencies are diving deep into the vendor's portfolio and driving growth across traditional and next-generation technologies.

Dell Technologies Chairman and CEO Michael Dell has emphasized that customers want cutting-edge, hybrid cloud technologies and they want to buy them from fewer vendors, not more. Solution providers said 2017 provided ample evidence for his assertion.

Here's how three partners are making big strides.

Davenport Group: Winning Deals With SC Series, VxRail

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Sonia St. Charles noticed a clear pattern in 2017. When customers or prospects put Dell EMC's SC Series (Compellent) storage portfolio up against competing offerings from Pure Storage, SC Series won every single time.

The CEO of Davenport Group said that winning streak, as well as Dell EMC's increased stability and channel focus, will help carry that momentum into 2018 as the Minneapolis- based solution provider dives deeper into the EMC portfolio and seizes the huge potential of the new SC Series all-flash line.

"We haven't lost a deal to Pure [Storage]," St. Charles said. "We've had several customers and several prospects that have evaluated us against Pure, but that's not something we're losing to because once the customer gets beyond the marketing spin from Pure and sees what's under the covers, they're going with Compellent.

Sonia St. Charles, CEO, Davenport Group

"Customers we have that are longtime Compellent customers see no reason to change that strategy," St. Charles explained.

"We've had many customers revisit it and investigate if there's a newer technology that's more appropriate, or powerful or cheaper, or whatever the criteria might be, and they all come back to reaffirming their decision to stay with Compellent. Some of those have been in competitive situations where we're going up against a Pure or somebody that's out really trying to compete for space in the market, but we don't have people leaving the Compellent world."

Beating back the competition comes as Davenport Group exceeds St. Charles' expectations for the large legacy EMC storage portfolio, which was new to the solution provider when Dell closed its landmark acquisition of EMC.

"This was a big year of change, and I think Dell has handled it really well," St. Charles said. "You're going to see a pretty significant leapfrog in improvements in 2018 that will allow us to capture more market share. You can feel the support for the channel. You can feel a tangible excitement level in the Dell teams to work with the channel and to grow that segment of the business."

For St. Charles, that means not only continuing its Compellent hot streak, but doubling down on the large legacy EMC portfolio. Already, the company is having success with the VxRail hyper-converged infrastructure solution.

"We're ramping up on the EMC portfolio, and we said at the start of the year that if we sold X amount, we'd be happy, but we really wanted to do 2X, and we will have hit that number by the end of January," St. Charles said.

Still, the workhorse Compellent line remains Davenport's bread and butter, and while the line was made even more powerful in late 2017 with the introduction of all-flash models, Charles isn't about to make any sweeping strategy changes.

"We're very excited about Compellent all-flash," St. Charles said. "We haven't altered our strategy, other than we have added to the offering. We're approaching every customer [by asking] what's the problem you're trying to solve, and then we're trying to find the best way to solve that. With market demands and the enthusiasm coming out of Dell EMC, I think 2018 is going to be a significant year."

[Dell EMC Ups Its Storage Game]

Zycom Technology: Driving Sales With Dell EMC Hyper-Converged, Cloud

The massive Dell EMC data center portfolio has ignited a super-hot growth fuse for Zycom and the solution provider is now adding personnel at a blistering pace.

"We're at 50 [employees] now, but we've been adding so fast I can't keep up," said Terry Buchanan, vice president and general manager of Zycom, adding that new hires are being added to the company's sales and services teams.

Terry Buchanan, VP, GM, Zycom

The hiring spree comes as Toronto-based Zycom's converged and hyper-converged infrastructure sales are spiking thanks to the tight alignment of Dell EMC's sales and partner strategy. The solution provider has been especially successful selling cloud platforms based on VxRail and Dell EMC's XC Nutanix, he said.

"As customers are evaluating converged products or hyper-converged infrastructure, they're very much aligning to Dell EMC's strategy of having multiple solutions under their banner that they can position for specific use cases," Buchanan said.

"We're seeing Dell EMC VxRail with [VMware] vSAN. In other cases, we're seeing Dell EMC XC [Series] for different use cases. That strategy has been very compelling for existing accounts, and we're moving it into a lot of new accounts, as well." Existing and new customers hungry for partners that can help enable a cloud strategy with a vendor that offers all the necessary technology has spurred Zycom to annual growth approaching 50 percent, Buchanan said. "We're having fun, and it doesn't look like it's going to stop," he said.

Zycom, a longtime Dell partner, also has successfully broken into the legacy EMC portfolio, and has gained traction with the Isilon and VNX product lines.

Buchanan said Zycom's success is the result of a sales approach that recognizes the benefits of growing over time with the Dell EMC portfolio.

"We're not trying to boil the ocean," Buchanan said. "We're taking a methodical approach. We're mapping the appropriate solution to the use case, even if it means starting exceptionally small compared to what it would be like in traditional tier-three selling of servers and SAN. We're letting the solution expand over time as the end user adds more workloads or use cases onto the platform, and that's appropriate across the portfolio. The days of trying to get everyone to buy everything all at once have pretty much gone by the wayside."

Zycom won a new, large public sector account in 2017 by introducing the customer to the cloud through disaster recovery test-development use cases. Since the initial sale, that customer has grown its cloud footprint to include production applications, VDI and data center, Buchanan said.

Zycom also has seen Dell EMC's channel operation hit its stride, he said. "They've made it fair and easier to get certified in the competencies to sell," Buchanan said. "As the relationship has settled, we're seeing a lot more consistency out of Dell EMC in terms of what partnership looks like, and it's opening up more net-new opportunities."

LAN Infotech: There's No Substitute For IT Horsepower

Michael Goldstein CEO, LAN Infotech

Customers' businesses are changing rapidly, and the demand for IT horsepower is stoking growth for LAN Infotech.

"We've seen a good 25 percent [annual] growth, and we definitely anticipate more growth in 2018," said CEO Michael Goldstein. "We've seen storage grow exponentially. Where someone might have bought a 12-bay unit, we're seeing a 24-bay unit, and we don't see that going away. Clients' businesses have changed, and they're requiring more horsepower."

And today, partners like LAN Infotech can offer all that horsepower from a single vendor.

"The one-stop shop has really helped," Goldstein said. LAN Infotech did a lot of business with Dell's legacy EqualLogic and Compellent storage lines, but it has quickly moved into the EMC portfolio.

"We've had clients consider a little bit of everything because it's a one-stop shop. VMware leads to a little more storage, which leads to a higher-end server," he said.

"We've been able to put faster, better storage in place," Goldstein said. "We've bundled in more VMware, more networking.

It really probably increased our bottom-line number by a third, the amount of product we are now able to bundle in."

The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., solution provider has grown from its strengths in Dell servers and EqualLogic and Compellent storage lines into Dell EMC's all-flash and hyper-convergence offerings.

"A lot of people are starting to see the bene t of all-flash storage, where before it was a high-ticket item," he said. "It's carrying across the different lines, even the entry-level stuff, because customers are realizing they need flash rather than saying, ’We're not that kind of shop.'"

The company has released all-flash versions of its midmarket Dell EMC Unity and SC Series storage lines with guarantees covering efficiency and customer satisfaction.

"It used to be a high-ticket item and now it's almost for everybody, and they feel like Dell EMC is behind it, and it makes it easier for us as a partner," he said.

Similarly, the market for hyper-converged infrastructure has matured to the point where solution providers can move into their sales comfort zones, Goldstein said.

"We're seeing people talking about the Dell EMC Nutanix XC piece, and I don't have to be the first-line educator now," Goldstein said. "Before, that was the hard part, [being] the educator, but now we're actually seeing some real demand."