Dell Positions Enterprise Solutions Group For Battle With Legacy Vendors, Aggressive Data Center Growth

Dell's enterprise solutions division has dedicated itself to a modular, mix-and-match approach that it said is more efficient, more helpful to customers and strategically stronger than legacy competitors.

At a recent strategic partner summit in Austin, Texas, Chris Auger, executive director of Dell enterprise solutions, told partners technology is transforming the way customers do business, and Dell can help solution providers stay ahead of those transformations and make the most of evolving customer needs.

"Dell's not afraid," Auger said, "and we're not trying to protect a legacy." Dell technology, he said, "transforms with you so you can transform your business."

[Related: Dell Enterprise President Haas: Shifting Industry Will Disrupt Cisco ]

Auger said the timing is perfect for Dell's flexible, "future-ready" enterprise solutions strategy. Customers realize they need to change in order to remain competitive, but they don't have a firm grasp on how to make moves toward the cloud, or software-defined networking, for example.

"Need without expertise is a perfect opportunity to add value," Auger told solution providers. "You can help customers understand they need to move up, not back into what they just moved away from."

While legacy vendors, particularly Cisco, continue to push customers toward lock-in deals dependent upon proprietary hardware and software, Dell is making a push in the opposite direction. Auger said Dell can win and maintain business by helping customers get more efficient within any environment.

The Round Rock, Texas, company is comfortable taking a mix-and-match approach to storage and compute in tailoring workloads on a client-by-client basis and committing to open, modular and flexible solutions.

Dell executives, as well as some partners, said getting Dell into environments where competitors hold sway is an important part of the company's enterprise strategy. Situations like that give Dell and its partners the opportunity to prove themselves to customers over time, without demanding customers remove existing equipment and replace it all with Dell products.

Auger sees a particular opportunity in software-defined networking.

"Software-defined is the new cloud," Auger said. "Dell software-defined networking is set to disrupt the entire industry, because it's changing the cost point of the entire solution."

Sonia St. Charles, CEO of the St. Paul, Minn.-based Davenport Group, said Dell's emphasis on flexibility and openness is paying dividends. Last year, Davenport, which is all-in with Dell, doubled the size of its business compared to 2013, and it's on target to double it again this year, St. Charles said.

"When Dell talks about working with the channel, we really are the poster child for it," she said.

"The products stand alone. They've got the best products on the market today. You can take them to a small customer or to a Fortune 500 company. There's something for everybody. It's open and it's scalable."

That's important, St. Charles said, because customers are realizing more and more that they need the kind of openness and flexibility Dell is pushing to deal with the ever-increasing amounts of data they produce and handle.

"What we have found more last year than any other year, it all comes down to data growth, and we are seeing that now your CIOs are open to different ways to handle the volume of data growth, they're open to creative solutions," St. Charles said. "The big players in the market are all solid, so it comes down to features and benefits. The confidence [in Dell] is there; real confidence comes from realizing this is not a blip -- data is continuing to grow."

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