Michael Dell: Servers and the Channel Are More Important Than Ever

Michael Dell: Servers and the Channel Are More Important Than Ever

Takeaways from a letter from Michael Dell to channel partners, focusing on new investment in the channel and software services.

For a while now, the biggest headlines about Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) have revolved around a potential buyout, which may or may not actually take place. But what is certain is that, even amidst all the chatter about private equity, Dell has been working assiduously to revamp its channel strategy, a move Michael Dell summarized this week in a letter to the company's partners. Here's the gist of what he had to say, and what it reveals about Dell's intentions going forward.

The letter, which Dell sent to members of its PartnerDirect program on Tuesday and was kind enough to forward to The VAR Guy as well, began by emphasizing the success over more than 18 years of Dell's PowerEdge server line. It confirmed that servers remain key to the company's strategy.

But the main thrust of Dell's vision for continued growth, as the company's CEO spelled it out, goes far beyond hardware. Instead, it's all about a shift to services and integrated solutions.

"Innovations in cloud, Big Data, mobile, social and security, " Dell wrote, "are changing the model for how technology is consumed and delivered. Providing differentiated value to you and your customers requires us to move beyond products by integrating software and services. That is the consistent and disciplined strategy that we’ve been pursuing."

That might sound like an obvious pitch to make to investors. But since this was a letter addressed not to Wall Street but to the channel, the focus on continued engagement with VARs—and the promise "to be even more aggressive in expanding our solutions portfolio, more aggressive in strengthening our relationship with you"—suggests that alongside maintaining rock-solid investment in server hardware, Dell is building a new strategy that, in many ways, will entwine it more deeply than ever before with the channel.

It will also, it seems, move Dell farther away from non-server hardware. Its bread-and-butter PCs and somewhat lackluster attempts to forge a path into the market for new types of mobile devices appear to have little role to play in the Dell vision for the future.

Most of what Dell wrote jives with the goals laid out earlier this week by other company executives in San Francisco, who emphasized Dell's growing software revenue and highlighted some key channel partnerships around that space. But Dell's letter spelled out in more explicit and direct terms than ever the new level of commitment the company is taking on regarding the channel, and its reordering of many of the core parts of its business.

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