EMC Partners Face New Competitive Threat From Dell Partners Getting Into EMC Enterprise Game

EMC enterprise partners, who have carved out a high-margin business with the storage market leader, are set to face fresh competition from Dell partners eager to take a bite out of the EMC enterprise pie.

As Dell inches towards the closing of its $67 billion acquisition of EMC, Dell partners are moving quickly to get trained and certified on EMC products.

The move comes despite the lack of a formal program by either Round Rock, Texas-based Dell nor Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC to address the certification of each vendor's solution providers on the other company's solutions.

[Related: What Will A Merged Dell-EMC Look Like?]

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Scott Winslow, president of Winslow Technology Group, a Boston-based solution provider and Dell channel partner, said his company can hardly wait to become an EMC partner. "We want to be able to compete with the Presidios and the Luminates and the CDWs of the world," he said.

Winslow Technology has already signed with EMC, and Winslow said one of the first things his company did was sign on with Arrow as its EMC distributor. "We will continue selling Dell's EqualLogic and Compellent lines," said Winslow. "But we want to be ready on Day 1 when the acquisition closes. We have well-regarded engineering and sales teams. We know they want to get trained. So they're spending time with Arrow already."

Winslow Technology is in the process of training its existing personnel and bringing in new employees in anticipation of becoming a joint Dell-EMC solution provider, Winslow said.

"We'll grow our staff by 30 percent this year," he said. "We'll add new sales reps, including EMC-focused sales reps, as well as pre-sales and post-sales engineers. Some will be trained in both Dell and EMC technology. Some we will bring in for particular backgrounds."

One EMC technology that Winslow Technology has particular interest in is the high-end VMAX storage line, which Winslow said has appealing technology but is sold by relatively few EMC partners.

"There are only a few competitors, including Hitachi Data Systems and [Hewlett Packard Enterprise]," he said. "So that's attractive to partners. We would need to bring in EMC to do the sizing and scope. But we see an opportunity in some of our larger accounts. And those deals are really large."

While some of Dell's top storage solution providers are looking at the logistics of getting certified for EMC's technology, at least one Dell partner is looking at short-circuiting the process by acquiring an EMC-focused partner.

That solution provider, who spoke with CRN on condition of anonymity, said his organization originally wanted to keep its head down and focused on Dell, but now realizes it needs to be ready for EMC.

"EMC will have a huge impact on Dell," the solution provider said. "EMC has a massive product line, customer base, and sales and partner organization. We have to figure out the best way to do this."

Training engineers in new technology is expensive and slow, the solution provider said. "So we are looking at a number of EMC partners and considering acquiring one," the solution provider said. "It's important for us to find a like-minded EMC-based company to work with us."

Irvine, Calif.-based Dell partner Sidepath, which moved to get certified on EMC products after the merger announcement, learned from EMC that it was already a partner, thanks to a relationship Sidepath had with Data Domain before that company was acquired by EMC in 2009.

"It seems once you are in EMC's database, you stay as a partner," said Patrick Mulvee, a partner at Sidepath.

Sidepath is nearly finished with the EMC certification process, Mulvee told CRN.

"Our guys are excited," he said. "They're seeing a lot of things from EMC they didn't realize before. Our team recently flew to Northern California to meet with EMC and drink from the EMC fire hose for a very long day."

Mulvee said it is important for Sidepath to have the technology to provide the right engineering value to customers, and this will include EMC going forward. However, he said, signing with EMC in the past was not possible because of Sidepath's loyalty to Dell.

"We've always been exclusive to Dell," he said. "That's been our strategy for a long time. Anyone at Dell who knows we're ramping up on EMC knows we're doing it to maintain our exclusivity with Dell."

In the field, the vendors' channel reps are telling partners to get ready for the merger, solution providers said.

Wally Lang, general manager at Hipskind TSG, an Oak Brook, Ill.-based Dell channel partner, said Dell's channel reps have been suggesting that his company introduce itself to EMC and start getting its engineers certified.

"They're extremely confident that this merger is happening," Lang told CRN.

Hipskind TSG has yet to sign up with EMC, but intends to, Lang said. The delay stems from the fact that Hipskind TSG is a small company with 11 very busy engineers and a cloud with 10 petabytes of managed data, he said.

"I think it's one of those things that are inevitable," he said. "We will head down that path. We're of the opinion the deal will close, and we assume there'll be some grandfathering in of storage-capable partners."

Eagle Technologies has not yet signed up with EMC, and is not really interested in EMC's VNX technology because of the large number of partners already selling it, said Dave Hiechel, president and CEO of the Salina, Kan.-based Dell channel partner

"But we are interested in EMC's Isilon and other point products," Hiechel told CRN. "We may want to get certified on these products. We'll have to evaluate it from the business side."

Mavenspire, an Annapolis, Md.-based Dell channel partner, has also decided not to develop an EMC relationship, at least for now.

"We're dedicated heart and soul to Dell," Michael Tanenhaus, a principal for Mavenspire, told CRN. "But things could change. There are numerous interesting EMC storage products, including Isilon and RSA. The problem is that new storage technologies like software-defined storage are rapidly changing the business."

Neither Dell nor EMC has a formal program to encourage its solution providers to sign up with the other at this point.

Gregg Ambulos, EMC's senior vice president of worldwide channel sales, told CRN there is no active program. "Dell has its business, and EMC has its business," Ambulos said. "We have to keep them separate."

Even so, Ambulos said he recommends EMC partners reach out to Dell. "But we have no formal program, and there's no collaboration between the Dell and EMC channel teams," he said.

Until the deal is closed, Dell and EMC remain two separate companies, said Jim Ganthier, Dell's vice president and general manager for engineered solutions and cloud.

"We're sure the deal will close," Ganthier told CRN. "But we're not sending out anything that tells our partners to get EMC-ready."