Dan Serpico, CEO of San Francisco-based FusionStorm, ranked No. 46 on the 2017 CRN Solution Provider 500 list and one of the ultra-exclusive Dell EMC Titanium Black partners, said he is seeing “considerable pressure” in the storage market. Although his Dell EMC server, networking and client sales were all up in 2017 year over year, storage sales were generally flat.
Market trends like direct-attached storage and softwaredefined technologies are having an impact on FusionStorm’s ability to continue to scale at the same pace as it could in the past. Pressure is also coming from Dell EMC storage competitors like Pure Storage and NetApp, he said. Although market pressure is mounting, Serpico is “bullish” about Dell EMC’s strategy and ability to recognize and solve storage challenges in 2018.
“Dell clearly has recognized that the market is challenged and they’re putting significant resources in attacking that market. Some of that is in the form of incentives, which we think are very important and have value, and some of that is their investment into the market itself and working in partnership with us in the field,” said Serpico. “The market is challenged, there’s no doubt about that, but Dell’s got the right approach. They’re investing heavily in it. Attacking it. They want their disproportionate share. That’s certainly encouraging to us.”
Tasked with driving partner enablement and profitability is Mullen, who replaced the hard-charging channel advocate John Byrne. Byrne is now Dell’s North America commercial sales leader.
Mullen, an 18-year Dell veteran who previously led Dell’s OEM and IoT business and added the global channel chief role at the end of November, said a big focus area in fiscal year 2019 will be on storage enablement and training for channel partners.
“We want our partners to be every bit as smart as our smartest storage specialist around our capabilities and our offerings,” said Mullen. “Just like our storage specialists are extraordinarily well-versed in matching up the right kinds of solutions with the problem the customers are trying to solve, we want to make sure our partners do the same. Making sure our partners are completely enabled is critically important for us.”
The storage blitz comes on the heels of the completion of the integration of the Dell and EMC teams. Dell Technologies became the world’s largest privately held IT firm after completing its $67 billion acquisition of EMC in September 2016. The integration process was moving full-throttle throughout 2017, said Michael Dell.
When asked to name his biggest accomplishment of fiscal year 2018, Dell said it was the completion of the complex integration process with EMC.
“We completed one of the largest and most complex integrations in history, and the company is functioning right now as one company. We have one face to the customer and we didn’t break anything. A lot of stuff that could have gone wrong didn’t go wrong,” said Dell in a recent interview with CRN. “We’re off to the races. I would say it is kind of like the end of the combination and integration, and it’s the beginning of the beginning. So we are just starting our new year as a relatively newly formed company with a lot of the integration behind us and great momentum from our customers and partners.”
Solution providers say their overall Dell EMC sales exploded in the second half of 2017 with the complex integration of the merger complete.
“We just had a record third quarter and are now surpassing that in our fourth quarter,” said Winslow Technology Group’s Winslow. “The Dell-EMC integration has taken hold and become more mature. The second half of 2017 has been incredible for us. Now that the eld sales teams have become more stabilized and have a better handle on how they’re going to go to market in the field aligning the legacy Dell and EMC teams, we’re very bullish that growth will continue in 2018.”
Winslow Technology Group’s Dell EMC storage sales were up 10 percent to 15 percent in 2017 compared with the previous year with plans to “hire aggressively” this year to support Dell EMC’s storage charge.
Michael Dell said his company is still focused on gaining market share in the server industry, but it is now expanding its efforts around storage.
“We’re adding resources in terms of storage specialists, increasingly creating more and more appliances with converged and hyper-converged, and helping our customers realize the hybrid cloud opportunity,” he said.
Storage success in fiscal year 2019 will be measured by Net Promoter Scores from customers, partners, employee team members, as well as market-share gains and nancial performance like EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortization) and cash flow, according to Michael Dell.
On top of all the storage-focused programs, incentives and new products rolling out to help the channel drive sales, Dell EMC is urging partners to leverage the company’s massive portfolio to win new deals. Dell EMC executives said the breadth and depth of the portfolio is a clear market differentiator that partners should utilize to their advantage.
Robert Keblusek, CTO of Sentinel Technologies, a Downers Grove, Ill.-based solution provider ranked No. 117 on the 2017 CRN Solution Provider 500 list, said customers are now asking what more can they leverage inside the Dell Technologies portfolio unlike ever before.
“In some cases, they might have never had EMC or had EMC before and went in another direction, but now they’re relooking at it and saying, ‘Hey, it’s now part of the overall Dell. Can Dell really meet a lot more of my needs?’ I just met with a university that was in a very similar situation,” said Keblusek. “They see the broader portfolio now with EMC giving them a lot of depth as far as storage, hyperconverged and data protection go, which gives us an opportunity to go in and solve more problems for customers than we previously could.”
With a healthy balance sheet of $18 billion in cash and investments heading into the new year, Michael Dell said he’s “very optimistic” and feels that there’s “nothing but great opportunities ahead.”
“When you compare us to the other large companies in our sector, what you find is we are larger, more profitable and growing faster,” said Dell. “It’s a good combination.”