Dell's Next MSP Partner Moves

Dell's Next MSP Partner Moves

Dell Global Channel Chief Greg Davis for Managed ServicesSure, Dell is selling managed services direct. But during a phone briefing today, Channel Chief Greg Davis (pictured) and other members of the Dell partner team described how the company plans to continue working more closely with MSPs and VARs that are seeking recurring revenue. Here's an update.

As you may recall, I've openly wondered if Dell remains committed to recruiting, training and certifying more MSPs. Yes, Dell's PartnerDirect team is having success engaging hardware-centric solutions providers; Dell now approves roughly 86 percent of registered deals from certified partners, Davis notes.

Impressive. But does Dell really want to partner up with MSPs on managed services? "We know how important services are to partners," says Davis. "I made the commitment to ensure that all [Dell] services could be sold to and through the channel."

Peter Klanian, senior manager for SaaS Global Channels at Dell, points to three of Dell's MSP-centric priorities:

  1. Supporting partners and giving them the ability to sell their own branded services.
  2. Partner with MSPs to provide Dell project and consulting services that MSPs may not be able to otherwise offer on their own. The MSPs can charge a mark-up for the work, though the have to permit Dell to work directly with the customer on the project.
  3. Move into new markets -- beyond basic remote monitoring -- to help MSPs exploit new revenue opportunities.

Shifting to SaaS

Part of Dell's challenge involves MSP partner churn. The company gradually transitioned its managed services platform from an on-premise appliance to a full-blown SaaS solution. During that transition, some MSPs opted to migrate to other software offerings.

Klanian says he expects that churn to end in June 2010, when Dell's MSP appliances (acquired in the 2007 Silverback Technologies deal) will reach end-of-life.

At the same time, Dell is hiring. One example: Dell recently replaced Todd McKendrick, an MSP-centric partner expert who made the move to Nimsoft in December 2009. "Making that hire speaks to our continued focus," says Klanian. "We wouldn’t have filled the position if we weren’t sincere about MSP partnerships."

Direct Debate

Some rivals have openly taken shots at Dell's direct managed services sales. But Klanian is quick to note that many software companies -- such as Nimsoft and Kaseya -- are balancing direct and indirect efforts.

In terms of ongoing success, Klanian points to Dell's work with The IT Pros, a San Diego-based MSP that has won numerous recurring revenue opportunities while working with Dell. One key engagement for the IT Pros involves Mitchell International. And yes, Dell's MSP offerings are involved in that particular engagement.

Klanian also points out that Dell MSP certification program involves opportunities across Remote Infrastructure Monitoring (formerly Silverback), Managed Print and Dell Desktop Manager (formerly Everdream).

Is Dell taking the MSP market by storm? I don't see evidence of that. But is Dell committed to working more closely with MSPs? I think Dell answered that question when the company hired McKendrick's replacement.

Next up, Dell will need to show some progress once the on-site MSP appliances reach end-of-life in July 2010. Even Klanian points out: "At that point, we’ll have a stable base of pure SaaS partners from which to grow."
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