Former Dell Advisor Launches Dell-VMware Channel Startup Skyhive

Dell Technologies channel partner startup Skyhive is focused on speed and automation with eyes set on huge growth in edge computing and cloud repatriation.


Former Dell Technologies advisory systems engineer and top executive at solution provider RoundTower Technologies, Rob Steele, is launching a new solution provider startup focused on red-hot growth markets like edge computing and cloud repatriation, expecting to have a leg up over the competition by being a fully remote company.

“It’s not the big beating the small anymore, it’s the fast beating the slow,” said Steele, chief technology officer and co-founder of Sanford, Fla.-based startup Skyhive. “We’re looking to be the quickest in as many avenues as we can.”

Skyhive plans on quickly becoming a Dell Technologies Platinum partner by the second half of next year and is focused heavily on selling the Dell and VMware broad portfolio to its Florida customers before expanding nationally in the future. The company is digital-native, meaning all employees are working from home, a purposeful move to give Skyhive speed.

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Skyhive’s special sauce will be speed by being a fully remote solution provider and leveraging automation whenever possible, both internally and for Skyhive customers.

“I’m not a big fan of tedious. So anything we have to do more than once, we’ll look at how we can automate it or avoid it in the future. So it’s spinning down certain business processes, or certain meetings, looking at what can we automate -- it’s asking those types of questions first versus, ‘Hey, we have to have these legacy business ways become the norm.’ We have the opportunity to start fresh,” said Steele. “See what we can automate and more forward as fast as possible. We’re also sharing our keys to remote work success and shortcuts with our customers.”

Two high-growth market opportunities in Skyhive’s sales strategy are around edge computing and cloud repatriation.

“Cloud repatriation is huge right now [because of the COVID-19 pandemic],” said Steele, who has nearly two decades of experience working for both the channel and vendor side of the IT landscape. “Nobody wants to be spending more money than they need to. So we’re giving them that model of how to spin-up, spin-down, and letting them know where the best place is to store their data.”

Steele said the COVID-19 pandemic forced many companies to quickly spin up work from home and digital workspace resources that are costly. “So now we’re able to go back and take a look at what’s working to say, ‘Well you’re spending ‘X’ amount in this certain public cloud. It makes sense to maybe leverage multiple clouds or to bring some of that back on-premise. Maybe establish more of a security perimeter.’ There’s a lot of things that just because of timing, people couldn’t afford to do -- they just needed to get everybody enabled -- so now we can help that,” he said.

One key growth opportunity for Skyhive in 2021 will be around providing edge computing solutions and services.

The worldwide edge computing market is forecast to reach approximately $250 billion in 2024, with a compound annual growth rate of 12.5 percent over the next four years, according to IDC. The research firm said services, such as professional and provisioned services, will account for a whopping 46 percent of all edge spending by 2024, followed by hardware at 32 percent, and then edge-related software at 22 percent.

“Edge is already hot. Now, with getting 5G enhanced connectivity and even some of that AI and machine learning metrics to crunch some of that data, we’re getting a lot more important data closer to where the action is,” said Steele. “Being able to capitalize on that and show customers how to leverage that data, there’s going to be a lot of business value.”

Skyhive just launched out of stealth mode so it only has a handful of current employees with a focus on recruiting systems engineers and inside sales reps with a focus on technical skills.

“We’re trying to do a heavier tech footprint than a sales footprint. Whatever is going to add the most value for customers,” Steele said. “I feel like we add the most value when we can align to more of that technical business value, so that’s what we’re shooting for.”

Steele was an advisory systems engineer at Dell Technologies with a focus on Dell’s higher end customers. His specialty was data protection solutions across Dell, VMware and the public cloud. Steele said he was responsible for around $2 billion worth of quota per year and formed Skyhive with the idea that he could fill in some gaps for Dell customers.

“Seeing all these customers and some of the things they’re experiencing, I thought it would be a good idea to be able to give them all that they need from a partner standpoint,” he said.

Prior to Dell, Steele spent eight years in a top technical and pre-sales role at solution provider standout RoundTower Technologies, one of the nation’s top Dell and VMware partners. In September, AHEAD acquired RoundTower to create a $2.1 billion solution provider with over 1,000 employees.

Skyhive’s plan is to drive growth as quickly as possible by capitalizing on emerging markets and innovative solutions around cyber recovery and Dell’s new PowerStore storage architecture.

“I’m excited for our journey ahead,” said Steele. “It’s a great time to be a channel partner.”