CompTIA Breakaway Recap: "What Do You Think About Dell?"

Amy Katz (my business partner) and I have completed our trip to the CompTIA Breakaway conference. Amy noticed a rather interesting trend that I had overlooked: During all of our Breakaway meetings, executives from across the managed services market asked us about our thoughts on Dell.

Some of the questions were basic ("Do you trust Dell?"). Others were complex ("How will Dell marry cloud computing, SaaS and managed services?"). But all of the questions involved some sort of lingering vendor distrust of the PC giant.

So, what do I think of Dell? My views on the PC giant aren't always popular. But I stand by them. Take a look.

First, let's sum up Michael Dell's mission in three words:

"Increase Shareholder Value."
Michael needs channel partners and managed service providers to help Dell fulfill that mission. As a result, I truly believe Dell is working in good faith with MSPs and VARs -- and has no hidden agenda to stab them in the back.

Will Dell make mistakes? Absolutely. But will Dell listen closely to partners and continually evolve? I believe so.

I have some other core Dell-centric beliefs, based on interviews with key sources close to Dell. Here they are:
  • The Ultimate Master MSP: In the managed services market, Dell's core goal is to become a master MSP, allowing VARs to leverage Dell's network operation centers (NOCs) and hosted software. Watch for that strategy to unfold later this year.
  • Partner Rally: Dell will continue to host regional events across the world for VARs and MSPs. But I'm convinced the company will do something bigger -- perhaps an annual partner event -- for VARs and MSPs in 2009 or 2010.
  • Storage in the Clouds: Somewhat similar to Amazon.com's S3 (Simple Storage Service) strategy, Dell will make a deeper move into hosted, on-demand storage.
  • MessageOne: Most MSPs focus on Dell's Silverback and Everdream acquisitions. But don't underestimate the MessageOne deal. Dell will begin to blend MessageOne's email service capabilities with its other managed services.
So, what do other people think of Dell? It was difficult to get rival technology companies to go on the record. But here are paraphrased samplings of what I heard, with generic descriptions of the sources:
  • From A Distributor: Dell doesn't quite understand what it acquired when the company purchased Silverback. And the MSP platform has languished a bit A so far under Dell. My Reaction: I disagree. I sense that Dell has a clear set of goals for Silverback, Everdream and MessageOne.
  • From An Outsourcing Specialist: Dell's managed services strategy makes sense but the company lacks face-to-face on-site services required for small business success. My Reaction: I agree fully. The company will need to partner up to keep SMBs happy.
Love Dell or hate Dell, everybody has strong opinions about the company.
TAGS: Technology
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