Dell EMC Networking Makes 'Distribution Exclusive' Commitment For Hot X Series Switches

Dell EMC is ratcheting up its networking technology offensive with a strategy to push its X Series network switch products exclusively through distribution.

This is the first time Dell EMC has offered a product line through distribution exclusively. The program is beginning in North America, EMEA and Asia-Pacific/Japan, and will be global by the end of the year, according to Jim DeFoe, Dell EMC senior vice president of worldwide distribution. Dell EMC works with Tech Data, Arrow and Ingram, among other distributors.

The arrangement is aimed at helping partners tap into cross-selling opportunities in the Dell Technologies portfolio. Mike Heintzelman, vice president of global vendors at Tech Data, said that fits neatly with the distributor's own strategies.

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"A lot of IT vendors bring their products through distribution. This demonstrates and reinforces Dell EMC's commitment to the channel," said Tech Data's Heintzelman. "We view them as a strategic vendor, and we see continued growth for us as a distributor with Dell EMC. This is one more piece to that puzzle and allows us to expand that relationship."

For Dell EMC, the strategy helps "give [distributors] the opportunity to make a splash with a much larger audience of partners than they might be able to themselves," Heintzelman said, adding that Tech Data has about 50 salespeople dedicated to Dell EMC.

Dell EMC's "open" approach to networking has been building momentum, and pushing the X Series switches through distribution is intended to capitalize on that momentum, DeFoe said. "Distribution is the fastest-growing part of our business, and we're looking to distribution to onboard all new partners," he said. "

Dell EMC Networking boss Tom Burns said even though the X Series is aimed squarely at the SMB or "small enterprise" market, the company is timing its acceleration through distribution at a time when the networking market is at "an inflection point" at which customers are looking for alternatives to legacy networking vendors like Cisco or HPE.

"We continue to have a relationship with Cisco, but it's also true that we know customers at times will want an alternative, and our real focus is on those disruptive areas around software-defined, around hyper-converged and converged, and around simplifying the campus," Burns said. "You'll see more and more investment in the portfolio and more and more investment in the channel to accelerate our growth above market. It's going to take time, but we feel good about our customer traction. The switch can't be the hold-up of all these new capabilities anymore."

Last year Dell EMC's switching business grew 7 percent while the market as a whole grew about 4 percent, Burns said. "Our data center business grew double digits, our campus business was low single digit. We see growth above market. In Q1, we grew 2.5 times the market. We grew close to 16 percent in our global solution portfolio," Burns said.

"We're seeing double-digit growth from our distribution business worldwide," DeFoe said. "We're seeing our distributors today being able to expand lines of business for us. If you look at EMC and their partners who had never done business with Dell, we're seeing very high penetration and increase of EMC storage tied to Dell servers where historically that partner had not sold Dell."

Dell EMC Networking's X Series switches have been shipping for about a year. The idea behind the series is simplicity. They use a simple GUI user interface and can be pre-configured via a USB port. To date, they've been most successful in SMB, education and retail markets, Burns said. The X Series also provides power to wireless access points, phones, cameras and other network devices with Power over Ethernet switches, and come in models from eight ports to 48 ports.

The new distribution strategy for the X Series comes barely more than a month after Dell EMC put pressure on networking competitors with a raft of new products introduced at the annual Dell EMC World conference in Las Vegas.

Those products include a 25-Gigabit Ethernet top-of-rack platform enabled for open networking, as well as a new 10/100-Gigabit Ethernet open networking top-of-rack switch, 100-Gigabit Ethernet fabric uplinks, and a 10/100-Gigabit Ethernet switching platform for campus environments.

The 10-Gigabit Ethernet and 25-Gigabit Ethernet platforms will run on a new version of Dell EMC's Linux-based OS10 operating system, which will be released as OS10 Enterprise Edition.

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