Dell Enterprise Boss Haas Promises 'White-Glove' Treatment For EMC Partners

Dell Enterprise Solutions President Marius Haas pledged that EMC's partners are going to get "white-glove" treatment to enable their growth and encourage them to pick up Dell product lines once Dell finalizes its $62 billion acquisition of EMC.

"EMC has roughly 400 key partners around the world that do a lion's share of the business," Haas told CRN in an exclusive interview. "We are going to have a white-glove process for these partners. We want to make sure that they feel they are loved, they are well-incented to go add lines of business, and that they grow at the same rates we are seeing within our ecosystem."

It's not just the top 400 EMC partners -- 60 percent of which already are Dell partners --Dell is aggressively courting to maintain EMC business, said Haas. He said it is "important that every EMC partner knows we are going to protect their accounts and incent our team members to grow the line of business within those accounts with the partners."

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One of the driving principles of an integrated Dell-EMC channel program will be to work with EMC partners already in accounts to grow that business, said Haas. "If you are in accounts, our objective is to grow that account base and expand lines of business in that account base," he said. "And we are going to incent our team members to go find new business for you as well. That is why we are pivoting the comp on our channel team to go hunt for new business for our partners," referencing his plan to incent Dell-EMC's channel teams to act as business development drivers for the channel.

The white-glove pledge and the promise to grow the current EMC account business comes as EMC partners are being aggressively courted by Hewlett Packard Enterprise and other competitors attempting to capitalize on the uncertainty with regard to combined Dell-EMC channel terms and product road maps in the wake of the largest IT acquisition in history. Many top EMC partners who do not carry Dell products told CRN they have yet to decide whether they will go all in with Dell.

Jamie Shepard, senior vice president for health care and strategy at Lumenate, No. 152 on the 2016 CRN Solution Provider 500 list, said he is looking forward to meeting with Haas and new Dell Global Channel Chief John Byrne to see how the duo is going to "define and execute" on the "white-glove" EMC pledge.

"Having been one of the founding members of the EMC channel partner advisory board, where we were instrumental in helping shape what we believed was one of the industry's most profitable and aligned channel models, we're looking forward to providing input on what makes a successful model for the channel, not just for the vendor," said Shepard. "Lumenate has built a very strong EMC, VMware and VCE practice, including Cisco, over the last 10 years so it's great to hear that [Haas] and Dell are going to be putting their money where their mouth is and not only honoring the EMC channel program but also extending it with white-glove service."

One of the keys to successfully integrating EMC partners under Dell Technologies, Shepard said, is a clear understanding of the strategic role EMC partners play in the data center. "Dell needs to understand that we have been playing in the data center space at a different level than Dell," he said. "Dell started out in PCs and went into servers – neither one being an overly strategic conversation. Those were technology needs for customers versus strategic business conversations we had with customers as EMC partners around knowing how business operates, defining data requirement tiers, disaster recovery plans and enabling all of that using EMC technology. Dell needs to understand it is a different sales model."

Dell Tuesday named Byrne, a 27-year industry veteran who joined the Round Rock, Texas-based company nine months ago, as its new global channel chief reporting to Haas, ending months of speculation about who would get the nod. Byrne is expected to name his new channel team after he gets settled in the role.

Sources said top EMC channel and sales leaders, including EMC Global Channel Chief Gregg Ambulos, will be part of the new combined Dell-EMC channel team.

Ambulos, for his part, conceded that EMC partners are looking for "clarity" around the single Dell-EMC channel program. "If you look at what the two companies bring together and you had to place a bet on a company in the marketplace that is going to help you [evolve], the partners know that Dell Technologies as one company is a safe bet," he said. "We are going to help our partners make that transition, and they are going to be part of the process."

Byrne, meanwhile, pledged that Dell account executives will remain focused on helping EMC and Dell partners grow the business. "There is no such thing as a Dell direct salesperson," he said. "There is an AE [account executive]. The AE still gets comped whether he sells directly or through a channel partner. There are no plans to change that."

Over the past year as competitors were tightening their belts, Dell has added 1,600 account executives helping drive sales growth for partners, said Byrne. "The channel could by default have 1,600 incremental salespeople helping create demand that is supported though the channel," he said. "Our competitors don't have those lanes. We do."

One competitor that Dell will continue to work closely with is Cisco given the EMC/VCE converged infrastructure alliance with the networking leader. In fact, Haas promised that the Cisco relationship will remain "strong."

"We have and will have a strong partnership with Cisco going forward," he said. "There is a lot of work being done with the whole VCE Vblock architecture where we want that collaboration to exist. We are going to make sure that our incentive structure and the way we treat our partners is going to give them much more excitement to work with us than NetApp or HPE or any of the other pure-play vendors."

As for VMware, Haas said that Dell-EMC partners will see "more influence" from the Dell side to ensure channel consistency, but that ultimately VMware will remain "independent" so that the company can continue to work with other infrastructure providers including HPE. "We have to let VMware be independent so that they can work with other people, but there will be consistency where it makes sense," said Haas. "I think the coordination and the consistency on how we make sure we drive value to our partners will be much greater, but there will still be an independent [VMware] program just because they will be a separately traded independent company."

Matt Brown contributed to this story.