CompTIA Breakaway: Here Comes Dell

Anybody else notice that Dell is a silver sponsor for the big CompTIA Breakaway show in Orlando (August 4-7)? CompTIA Breakaway typically attracts more than 1,000 attendees, with a heavy emphasis on VARs and managed service providers.

Breakaway arrives at an interesting time for Dell, which is starting to generate positive channel press coverage from some unlikely sources. Here's a recap of Dell's MSP and channel strategy to date.

To be clear, MSPmentor and The VAR Guy (our sister site) are pretty balanced when it comes to Dell-oriented coverage. Our general thesis is as follows:

Dell's moves into the managed services market will surely upset a few folks, but Dell's primary goal is to increase sales and profits -- and lift the company's stock price. And Dell needs MSP and VAR partners to drive profits.
A year into Dell's channel strategy, I've heard a few complaints about channel conflict -- but nothing that suggests Dell is going to turn its back on partners. In fact, partners have

First, the challenges:
  • At the F5 Networks Partner Summit, a few partners complained about competing head-on with Dell in the data center and application load balancing market. But this isn't channel conflict. Dell is an F5 reseller, and will naturally compete with other F5 partners.
  • Dell plans to become a Master MSP, which means the company will host systems for managed service providers. But will MSPs trust Dell with the data?
  • Dell requires partners to share customer information when registering deals with the PC giant. That worries some partners. But registering customer names is standard operating procedure in the channel, so partners will need to get used to it.
  • Dell is testing a direct strategy for managed services, but the company has fully disclosed this to MSPs.
  • MSP platform providers -- most notably, ConnectWise -- are warning customers not to trust Dell because of the company's direct sales heritage.
Now, the progress:
  • Dell ranks among the most approachable companies in the channel. Seriously. The company's channel blog and FaceBook PartnerDirect Group drives interaction -- positive and negative -- with VARs.
  • Dell is on the road constantly, hosting open forums with MSPs and VARs to answer questions.
  • Dell has worked overtime to clarify pricing to its partners.
  • Dell has sent a letter to MSPs clarifying the company's certification strategy and small business plans.
  • Even CRN is now writing upbeat things about Dell's partner program.
Is Dell perfect? Nope. But has Dell made progress since launching PartnerDirect and acquiring Silverback and Everdream? Absolutely. If things were terrible with Dell's MSP and partner program, we all would have heard about it by now.
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