Partners Fire Back At Dell's Newest Ad Attack On Cisco, Calling It 'Misdirected'

Dell's newest marketing attack on its rival Cisco has partners up in arms, calling Dell's new ad "misdirected." Dell's new ad campaign says, "Be your own Chief Cloud Officer. Build a future-ready cloud up to 80 percent faster than Cisco and lower TCO."

"It's just ... misdirected," said a top executive from a solution provider ranked on the CRN Solution Provider 500 list, who declined to be identified. "That's like saying, 'It's cheaper and faster to open up a small convenience store than it is a big supermarket.' Well, yeah, of course it is. Of course it's going to take longer -- it's more complicated and you have more pieces to move ... Dell is saying it's 80 percent faster to deploy because they're using different size business models compared to Cisco's business model."

The 80 percent faster and lower TCO statistics in the ad are based on a test report by the firm Principled Technologies, commissioned and sponsored by Dell. The report compared Dell Active System Manager to Cisco UCS.

[Related: Dell: We Can Build Cloud '80 Percent Faster' Than Cisco, And Cheaper Too]

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"If the main competition for Dell right now is Cisco, then it makes sense to target them. From a cloud perspective, it's an uphill battle though," said another solution provider executive who partners with both Dell and Cisco, who wished to remained unnamed.

Although partners said the 80 percent faster deployment may be true, San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco and Round Rock, Texas-based Dell are targeting different size customers. Solution providers said Dell goes after the SMB cloud space, while Cisco benefits most in the midmarket, enterprise and global space.

Cisco said it does not comment on the marketing/ad campaigns of other companies.

"With all the cloud that we've been doing and talking to customers so much about cloud services, I don't think Dell has really come up in any of those conversations," said a top executive at a Cisco Gold partner, who declined to be identified.

After reading the Dell-commissioned report, the executive said the findings were misguided.

"What the report is implying is there is this very wizard-driven, very simple guided solution through a deployment of ready-to-host VMware vSphere Cluster. [UCS] Director does take a bit of work to set up and configure, but it’s very powerful too. Director can go broader and deeper [than Dell]," he said. "Director has become a platform for Cisco for a lot of things automation, ties into [Application Centric Infrastructure] ACI -- it ties into a lot of things."

Solution providers had mixed reactions on whether or not Dell could win over some market share from Cisco in the midmarket space.

"Dell has a ton of midmarket customers right now because people bought a ton of servers, and then when they started virtualizing they might have chosen Dell," said the solution provider on CRN's SP500. "Dell has a very comfortable position in infrastructure in the midmarket space."

Solution providers also pointed to Dell's 2008 acquisition of EqualLogic for $1.4 billion as putting it squarely in the midmarket space. Other partners said Cisco's cloud business and strategy is "years" ahead of Dell.

"I personally don’t think [Dell] will be able to touch Cisco from a technology perspective, which means that they would have to try to get close to them, then discount the crap out of their product to try to gain entry in new accounts," said the solution provider who partners with Dell and Cisco.

Dell has been attacking Cisco through various public fronts this year, including in May when Dell Enterprise President Marius Haas boasted on Twitter that Dell's revamped Active System Manager is 80 percent faster and nearly 100 percent cheaper than Cisco UCS.

"There's no doubt Dell is attacking Cisco because they really want to make a name for themselves in the market as somebody that delivers cloud, and one way to do that is go after one of the big players," said the Cisco Gold partner.