What Does Dell's Acquisition Spree Mean for MSPs?

Everybody’s talking about Dell’s (NASDAQ:DELL) recent acquisition spree – five since the beginning of 2012 and three of those in the last week. From AppAssure to SonicWall to Wyse to Clerity Solutions to Make Technologies. And that adds to a whole bunch of acquisitions in the last year including SecureWorks which was recently recognized by Forrester Research as one of the leaders among big managed security service providers. Forrester particularly cited Dell Secureworks for the quality of its consultants and engineers.

Indeed, Dell’s acquisitions of recent years indicate the company is really moving to extend beyond its PC roots into infrastructure, the cloud, applications, services and more. The company today looks a lot more like IBM or HP than it did even just a few years ago.

So what’s it all mean to channel partners? For Dell resellers the news has been reasonably good. The Dell EqualLogic and Compellent lines have been growing for both Dell and its partners. I’m sure not everything has been perfect. But at the same time it hasn’t been a disaster for that many in the channel thought it might be when Dell decided it would start up a channel partner program. I’m sure it’s happened, but I haven’t personally heard an unhappy story about a deal gone direct.

But the managed services side is a different story. Dell’s acquisitions there began with Silverback almost five years ago, a remote monitoring and management solution. The company talked a good game about sticking with managed services partners, but ended up offering a hosted model that didn’t appeal to many of Silverback’s existing MSP partners. Then it rolled out a direct play in many metro markets, only deferring if there was already a certified Dell MSP in that geography.

While Dell has said that it wants reseller partners to reach markets it’s been unable to tap, it’s not obvious that the same is true for managed services. Check out this list of the Dell Managed Services here to see the spectrum of service offered: End User Managed Services; Enhanced Information Security; Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity; Mobile Device Management; Managed Network Services; Platform Management; Data Storage; Protection and Management; and Telecom Expense Management. Where do partners fit into that? It’s unclear.  Dell hasn’t talked much about its MSP program recently.  Is it on the back burner now? We’ll be watching.


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