Dell Partners Say New EMC Reseller Agreement Would Smooth Road To Acquisition

Dell partners wonder whether Dell could begin reselling data storage giant EMC's products and solutions before the two companies finalize their proposed $67 billion merger next year.

While some solution providers argued a reseller agreement might be too confusing and complicated to implement, a top executive at a large Dell partner noted during a recent conversation with CRN that Dell took that approach when it acquired Compellent in early 2011. Dell became a Compellent reseller in the months before the acquisition closed.

The solution provider noted that there's a long window between the announcement of Dell's EMC acquisition in October and the target for the deal's completion sometime in mid-2016. The deal faces several challenges, including tax concerns and unrest among investors in EMC and its subsidiary, VMware.

Related: 'Bad Blood' From Storage Sales Divorce Hangs Over Dell-EMC Sales Teams

"Are they just going to be competing with each other for nine months?" the solution provider said. "And then they're saying it's going to be another nine months before the teams are fully integrated. If I can sign up to be a partner, and get access to the technology, that would make it easier."

The president of another Dell partner said a reseller arrangement would help his firm, but wondered whether the Round Rock, Texas, company could put a deal in place quickly enough.

"I think it helps as a partner," he told CRN. "It accelerates our ability to work with Dell on any EMC opportunities. I would be surprised if they could make something happen that quickly, but it may not be as hard if the old EMC/Dell infrastructure is still in place."

Dell and EMC had a longstanding storage reseller agreement until late 2011, when Dell ended the pact two years before it was set to expire, and nine months after it spent $876 million to acquire Compellent.

The agreement had been in place since 2001, but the relationship became strained in 2008 when Dell acquired storage vendor EqualLogic and fought an ultimately unsuccessful bidding war with HP for storage start-up 3PAR.

The break up left bad blood between Dell and EMC sales teams, and Geoff Woollacott, principal analyst at Technology Business Research Inc., said a new reseller agreement could be a way to bring them back together.

"It could certainly make sense from the perspective of getting the sales teams to begin collaborating," Woollacott said. "They have a long history of having that relationship in the past."

Glenn O'Donnell, an infrastructure analyst at Forrester Research, told CRN that while a reseller deal is certainly a possibility, the two companies are likely focusing all their resources on the merger.

"It's always a possibility, and there have been deals between the two companies," O'Donnell said. "They've been partners for eons, and that's a plausible scenario, but it would probably take away some resources from both companies that they'd rather dedicate to the merger."

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