CRN Exclusive Q&A: Michael Dell Says Sales Are Strong, Ahead Of Private Company Plan

Ahead Of Plan

Dell CEO Michael Dell says in an interview with CRN that sales at the company, which went private last fall in a $24.9 billion leveraged buyout, are "strong" and running well ahead of plan. Here are excerpts from the discussion with The Channel Company CEO Robert Faletra, Editor News Steven Burke and Senior Editor Tom Spring.

Has the plan to turn over 200,000 accounts to the channel worked?

Our business is running well ahead of our plan and demand I would characterize it as strong. The enhancements to our channel program have been a big part of that. So I am feeling great. We're off to a great start for the year. It looks from all indications that we are growing much faster than the overall market.

CRN: Did the channel sales grow faster than direct sales in the first quarter?

Channel sales have been growing faster than direct sales for a long time.

Where are you seeing the greatest success with the 200,000 accounts program?

Talk to guys like FusionStorm. There are plenty of partners out there that are growing rapidly with us.

What are your thoughts on the Cisco public cloud entry?

We have taken a different approach here instead of going to compete with all of those service providers and telcos. We are enabling them. There are also a number of firms out there like OnApp that are integrating our hardware platform and allowing VARs to create their own cloud platform.We are also seeing big growth in the private cloud space. But in terms of building a public cloud to compete with partners we are not doing that at all.

Does that give you a competitive advantage versus the competitors Cisco HP and IBM which are offering public cloud?

I think it (public cloud) is a crowded space, lots of guys playing there. You didn't mention Amazon, Google, Microsoft. So we are continuing to provide infrastructure equipment to the majority of those companies creating a way for partners to engage in building a new cloud marketplace which you'll hear more about over time, enabling smaller partners to build their own cloud services.

What is the message to partners who want to engage on this new account business and haven't been successful?

The growth continues to be very strong, great success with a large number of partners. If there are some that need help we are happy to work with them to figure out how we engage. I would say in aggregate the numbers are absolutely impressive and growing very very nicely. We are well ahead of our plan and demand is strong.

What is your message to Dell direct sales reps on working with partners?

It is pretty easy. We just had our annual (sales) recognition event and the folks that are coming up on stage and getting recognized are the reps that have figured out that you win with the channel. Our message is clear and consistent and we continue to grow the share of relationship. The reps that are doing the best have figured out that they can leverage themselves tremendously with channel partners. It is as simple as that. We are very happy with the progress, growing nicely, growing faster than market.

How does it feel to run Dell as a private company?

It feels awesome. It feels great. I think that we have been able to tap into some real excitement among partners and customers and the momentum of the business just feels great.

Is Dell a more partner centric company as a private company?

We continue to grow the partner program for sure. As we have said in the past, we think it is going to keep growing. That is what it is doing.