Dell Seeks to Unify Managed Services, Cloud Services Partners

Dell continues to offer a hosted managed services platform to MSPs and VARs. But that effort could ultimately shift to a Dell Cloud Infrastructure initiative. Details are still pending, but it sounds like Dell late this year plans to more clearly articulate how partners can earn monthly recurring revenues (MRR) working with Dell's cloud services.

During a phone call today, Dell Channel Chief Greg Davis said the company may organize multiple hosted and managed services under a single partner initiative late this year. Davis referred to the effort as Cloud Infrastructure, though I think it's premature to consider that the official initiative name.

Economies of Scale

Davis conceded that Dell's individual cloud services and managed services -- such as SecureWorks, Boomi, and  Dell Managed Services -- may look like small, isolated opportunities to some partners. But Dell hopes to gain economies of scale across multiple managed and cloud services.

Still, Dell isn't rushing the cloud infrastructure partner initiative. Davis concedes that Dell's channel partner organization is focusing on a range of big priorities, including the smooth integration of the Force 10 Networks acquisition, which has yet to be completed. But Davis indicated that he expects Dell to be ready with a Cloud Infrastructure effort for partners around the end of this year.

Mixed History

As I've previously stated, I think Dell's early managed services efforts missed the mark with partners. When Dell was transitioning its managed services software (previously called SilverBack) from an on-premise appliance approach to a cloud approach around 2008 and 2009, the PC giant also started launching direct-to-customer managed services initiatives.

I realize Dell has a right to sell direct, but there was no major partner push on the managed services front. Ultimately, I think Dell may have lost more MSPs than Dell gained during the Silverback technology transition.

Looking ahead, I think a lot of channel partners now trust Dell -- especially in the areas of storage (EqualLogic, Compellent) and servers. But some Dell channel critics certainly remain. The biggest question of all: Will MSPs trust their business and customer data to Dell's cloud efforts?
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