CRN Exclusive: Michael Dell On A Rival's Failed Bid To Buy EMC, HPE's Attempts To Recruit EMC Partners And 'Channel Day' At Dell Technologies

The Next Era Of Dell Begins Now

Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell spoke with CRN after completing the $67 billion acquisition of storage market leader EMC in what is now the largest acquisition in IT history.

Dell, who started Dell in a University of Texas dorm room 32 years ago, is now heading up the largest privately held IT company in the world with $70 billion in annual sales.

Dell spoke with CRN about a rival's failed bid to buy EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise's attempts to recruit EMC partners and how competitors are reacting to the blockbuster Dell-EMC deal.

How do you feel now that you have closed the largest acquisition in IT history?

We are doing awesome. It's 'channel day' at Dell Technologies.

What is the history of the deal and what led to the combination of Dell and EMC?

If you go back and look at all the documents that are public about this combination, you will find the discussion between Dell and EMC started in 2014 and before those discussions, there were discussions with another company. You will have to go figure out who that was. You can maybe guess.

My point is the formation of Dell Technologies has changed the industry landscape and all the competitors you are asking us about they are reacting to us. Their strategies will have to respond to what we have created. If you think through that, they have somewhat limited responses.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise claims to be making progress in recruiting EMC partners concerned about the integration. Have you seen any defection of EMC partners to the HPE program?

No, I haven't seen much of that. When you look at the strength of the portfolio we are quite well positioned with channel partners. We are No. 1 in storage, and have an incredibly strong position in x86 servers, and converged, and hyper-converged with VxRail and VCE.

Talk about the close of the transaction and what kind of planning has been done since the deal was announced last October.

This transaction is closing on time, as planned at the original terms that we announced last year and we have used that time carefully to understand how each of these [channel] programs has worked, what has really been key to its success and how we can improve upon them as we bring them together as one. I think you will find a very thoughtful approach and great balance -- preserving the best of both programs but also building something together that is also stronger.

What is the plan to bring EMC partners into the Dell channel program at the same level they are at in the EMC program?

Those are positive actions that all the partners will love. I have had the chance to see all this and also talk with a number of the partners as they have kind of gotten a preview of the coming attractions and they are all quite excited and positive about it. So we have gotten a very strong and positive reaction.

How you are doubling down on EMC partners to get out of the gate fast?

I have been out with [Dell Chief Commercial Officer and President Enterprise Solutions] Marius [Haas] and [Global Vice President of Sales Strategy Operations and Channel] John [Byrne] meeting with a number of the great EMC partners. Look, when you think about the breadth of the portfolio we have and the significant development of the Dell channel over the last eight years, EMC has a long history with many of these partners as well, bringing all this together it is a tremendous opportunity for the partners and for us.

How are you going to bring these two different cultures together and how the two organizations go to market?

Let's talk about culture. I have heard this and it is sort of a common thing that people talk about. We did a survey of 75,000 people across Dell and EMC and we asked them to rank and rate 22 different cultural attributes and we found something kind of amazing, which was the top five attributes ranked by the Dell team and the EMC team were exactly the same five things. Even more remarkable is they were ranked in exactly the same order.

So while there is a lot of perception that the cultures are different, actually when you ask 75,000 people at Dell EMC what is important, what do you value, why do you value it, you come up with exactly the same answers.

Now you do find differences in culture across function. So, for example, your salespeople are not like your engineers, and your lawyers are not like your marketers. That is not a bad thing. You don't want them all to hold hands and sing songs and be the same. You want to get the best out of the cultures and we do that with a guiding set of principles and fact-based decision-making.

Has the Dell reseller partnership with EMC from 2001 to 2011 been a factor as you look to integrate the two companies?

We have had a long relationship with a lot of the key folks at EMC as a function of the prior Dell-EMC alliance, which lasted close to a decade and got up to a couple of billion dollars in revenue.

During the last 10 months and even before that – discussions started in 2014 -- we had a long time to work together with [Senior Vice President Worldwide Channels] Gregg Ambulos, [EMC President Global Sales and Operations] Bill Scannell, [EMC Products and Marketing President] Jeremy Burton, [EMC Information Infrastructure CEO] David Goulden, [President, VCE, the Converged Platform Division of EMC] Chad Sakac, [EMC President Core Technologies] Guy Churchward, [EMC President Emerging Technologies] CJ Desai, [EMC Virtustream Chairman] Rodney Rodgers and [VMware CEO] Pat Gelsinger. The teams have really come together in a powerful way. So I am excited.