Dell Pushes Deeper Into Storage Consulting

Dell did some last-minute shopping before Christmas, acquiring The Networked Storage Company (TNWSC), a UK-based firm that specializes in IT consulting. The move comes only a few weeks after Dell announced an aggressive strategy to engage resellers, integrators and managed service providers.

At first glance, TNWSC isn't much of a threat to MSPs and other Dell channel partners. But storage consultants may want to keep a close eye on this transaction. Here's why.

Launched in 2001, TNWSC has been "completely independent and we do not sell or recommend products or implementation services," according to a letter from TNSC CEO Simon Pennock posted on the company's web site.

Instead, TNWSC offers a methodology -- known as the Point of Proof -- that helps customers to gather their storage requirements, review vendor capabilities and help select storage solutions.

This isn't a low-end channel play for Dell. Rather, TNWSC has a blue chip customer base including several of Europe's leading financial institutions, according to a statement from the company. Also, TNWSC's management team includes veterans from Accenture, Amdahl, CitiGroup, BMC, IBM, EMC, KPMG, Merrill Lynch, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

This is a tricky time for Dell. The company continues to walk a fine line as it tries to bolster its own professional services organization and seeks channel partners. Dell announced its partner strategy on December 5, and has also been busy acquiring managed service providers and software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies like Everdream and SilverBack Technologies.

Some folks worry that Dell will turn its back on partners -- again -- because selling direct is part of the company's DNA. But Dell is desperate to bolster its profits and please Wall Street. And as one New York integrator recently told me, "Dell's desperation could mean that the company is sincere in its partnering efforts, but overcoming the direct DNA won't be easy."

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