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Bill Scannell On Dell-VMware: ‘We Are First And Best Together’

Mark Haranas

Dell Technologies’ global sales leader Bill Scannell talks to CRN about Project Apex, Dell’s storage strategy to boost market share and VMware integrations plans in 2021.

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Bill Scannell: Dell’s 2021 Strategy For VMware, Storage and As-A-Service

Dell Technologies’ worldwide sales leader Bill Scannell has big plans in store for 2021 around Dell’s everything as-a-service strategy with Project Apex, driving storage sales with PowerStore and continuing to double down on its integrations with VMware.

“[Dell and VMware] are first and best together in the market,” said Scannell, president of Global Sales and Customer Operations for Dell Technologies, told CRN. “We are co-engineering, co-developing solutions that are paying off for both companies.”

VMware, which is majority-owned by Dell Technologies, is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in red-hot markets like hybrid cloud software and Kubernetes. VMware and Dell have one of the strongest technology partnerships in the industry, co-creating market leading products like VxRail, which made CRN’s 10 Coolest Hyperconverged (HCI) Systems of 2020 list.

In an interview with CRN, Scannell also talks about Dell’s 2021 bullish Project Apex strategy, plans to boost its storage market share and responds to HPE’s recent comments on Dell’s as-a-service strategy.

What is Dell’s 2021 plans around VMware technology integrations, go-to-market synergies, etc.?

The major strategy around Dell Technologies, which includes VMware, has been around digital transformation. When I think of digital transformation: I think of Pivotal Cloud Foundry; I think of Tanzu as a platform for developing next-generation cloud-native applications; I think of Workspace One as part of our workforce transformation solution and Unified Workspace. For security, there’s Carbon Black for next-generation endpoint security, NSX for securing the network, our cyber recovery solution for protecting against ransomware. When I think of IT transformation and multi-cloud, AVS (Azure VMware Solution), VMC (VMware Cloud on AWS), VMware Cloud Foundation – all of these are the tip of the spears as part of our joint offerings.

We are first and best together in the market. We are co-engineering, co-developing solutions that are paying off for both companies. We’re going to continue to lean in on that co-development, co-engineering going forward and keep bringing great solutions to the market that allow us to play on-premise and in the public cloud.

Talk about Dell and VMware’s hybrid cloud strategy.

I believe in our vision and our strategy. I believe enabling a multi-cloud agenda for our customers makes sense. When someone walks in and says, ‘You should put everything in a public cloud,’ – wrong answer. Get out. You’ve lost credibility.’ When someone says, ‘Everything should stay on-premise,’ – wrong answer. Get out. You’ve lost credibility.

Dell Technologies with VMware is uniquely positioned to go in and listen to our customers [to create] a multi-cloud [environment]. I’m doing this today with hundreds of customers around the world and with our channel partners around the world. And our channel partners are hearing, yes, it’s a multi-cloud world. It’s not either/or – it’s both.

HPE says Dell’s Project Apex is late to the as-a-service market. Any comments?

I won’t comment on what they think. I’ll tell you what our customers have been telling us. They have liked our consumption models for the ten years we’ve been offering them, whether its Flex on Demand or whether it was doing managed services for them. Now they’ve asked us to take it to the next level. We think the time is now to start executing on that.

We will let the customer vote with their wallets. If one of our competitors want to take us lightly or take us for granted, that’s the best thing I can hope for.

With HPE CEO Antonito Neri (pictured) expecting to gain share over Dell next year, where does Dell have a leg-up over HPE?

We have a great strategy. We’re talking about how we enable multi-cloud solutions for our customers. The fact that we can enable workloads to run on-premise, burst to the public cloud, we do more backup into the public cloud providers than anybody else on the planet with our DD VE (Data Domain Virtual Edition). Our strategy is just really resonating well with our customers. We’re not in there talking about products. Were in there talking about solutions and outcomes around the four major transformations. … Our largest customers are investing very heavily with Dell Technologies based on our strategy.

Our strategy and our vision is going to set us apart from the rest of the field. I won’t call out any particular player, but I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves as we continue to execute on our strategy as we continue to execute on the midrange storage. It’s early days with PowerStore, but it’s an architecture that’s built for the next decade as oppose to using ten-year old architectures to compete today. I like the hand that we have to play.

What are Dell’s big bets in 2021 to drive growth?

Fiscal year 2021 which ends end of January has all been about our go-to-market transformation. How do we realign our resources, take two separate originations of commercial and enterprise and bring those together in one global, talented go-to-market team. That was all the heavy lifting we did this fiscal year. Fiscal year 2022 is about accelerating the growth. We’re doing very well in the client business. We think the opportunity to accelerate that exists in fiscal year 2022 starting in February.

The key to our success is going to be around midrange storage. The very high end with PowerMax we continue to take share in the market. That market is declining but we’re doing exceptionally well in a declining market. If I look at our data protection suite, we’re taking share and growing. Our story is all around PowerStore. The big announcement we made this year was putting more toward front end margins for our partners to really incent them to lean in on PowerStore. From my perspective, it’s perhaps the greatest product we’ve ever launched.

How is PowerStore doing in the market after just a few quarters?

When I look at the growth rate of it: it’s growing faster than any product we’ve ever launched before: whether that’s VxRail, XtremIO, whether that’s PowerMax – this thing is just growing at a very good rate. We can grow it faster and we really want our partners to rally around it with us. It is the fastest technology out there. It’s the most reliable technology out there. It’s the most advanced architecture. PowerStore is built for the next decade.

We think the opportunity to regain share in that midrange and get into hypergrowth exists around PowerStore and our Unity platforms. We’ll continue to do well next year in data protection and in the high end of server and client. Our focus going into next year with the partners is, ‘How do we take back that midrange market?’

Do you think Dell’s storage sales can bounce back in 2021?

On PowerMax, we continue to do very well. We have the highest share of any of our competitors in the high end of the range by a factor and we continue to take share. When I look at data protection, through the first three quarters, we were up a few percentage points while the market was down a few percentage points. When I look at unstructured data and the UDS platform, we were up a few points while the market was down a few points. Look at hyperconverged, go back three or four years ago, we were a distance second or third – now, we’re the market leader by a long shot. So we’ll continue to focus and invest and leverage our channel community to do well where we are doing well.

We’re going to put a lot of attention on that midrange, on PowerStore. When I look at the product: it’s the fastest, most reliable, it has the fastest data reduction, it has the best intelligence build into it, it’s scale-up and scale-out, it does everything anyone else’s product does – and then some. There’s not a product on the market that will be able to compete with PowerStore. But it’s new. It’s been in the market for a couple of quarters. We’re pleased with the uptake so far.

My boss [Dell CEO Michael Dell] likes to say, ‘Pleased, but not satisfied.’ So were pleased but we’re not satisfied. I have calls every other week on PowerStore to make sure we understand where we’re winning and why, and then replicate it. The market is ripe. That’s where the growth is. As we go forward, I know we’re going to do very well with that midrange platform.

How significant is Project Apex in 2021?

We’ve been doing flexible consumption models for ten years. But now we’re were supercharging it. Everything we offer will be offered through Project Apex, whether its Apex storage, Apex backup, Apex compute – everything will be offered as-a-s-service. Our route to market will always largely be though our partner community. So we need to educate them, get them on board with our multi-cloud strategy, and our consumption models next year. When we do that, it’s a powerful combination that will separate us from the rest of the pack.

Why launch Project Apex in 2020?

Over the last few years, we’ve been proving out that the answer isn’t public cloud. The answer isn’t private cloud. It’s multi-cloud. When you think about how many clouds our customers have between the SaaS providers – whether its Workday or Salesforce or ServiceNow – or the hyperscalers – whether it’s the big three AWS, Azure or Google, or IBM, Oracle or many of the cloud service providers – we’ve proven out that there’s some workloads that will always be on-premise, and there’s some workloads that are purpose-built to go into a public cloud. That mixture is what everyone is trying to decide. There was a point in time that people said, ‘100 percent of my apps will go to a public cloud.’ Now it’s more like, ‘Maybe if 30 or 40 of my apps could go over a few years period to a public cloud, that would be good.’ But Dell Technologies is now helping our customers have that cloud experience on-premise. We give them the automation they need, the speed and agility they need to provision applications and provision workloads very quickly in that cloud-like environment. The last piece of that is give them cloud-like consumption models, that’s where Project Apex comes in. It’s really perfect timing.

If you were a Dell Technologies channel partner, where would you invest in 2021?

If I were a channel partner, I would really understand Dell Technologies strategy around multi-cloud, around digital transformation, around workforce transformation in this new world of work and learn from home, and around security and what we can do to protect our customers.

The two most valuable assets our customers have is their people and their data. We can do a good job of making their people more productive and their data more secure. So if I’m a channel partner, understand what Dell Technologies strategy and vision is, and jump on for the ride of your life because we’re just getting going.

 

Mark Haranas

Mark Haranas is an assistant news editor and longtime journalist now covering cloud, multicloud, software, SaaS and channel partners at CRN. He speaks with world-renown CEOs and IT experts as well as covering breaking news and live events while also managing several CRN reporters. He can be reached at mharanas@thechannelcompany.com.

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