Live Blog: Dell Software President John Swainson
Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) Software President John Swainson, Channel Chief Greg Davis and other company executives are in San Francisco today updating Dell's software, enterprise, cloud and channel strategies. The gathering comes at a critical time, as Dell tries to keep its staff, partners and customers focused on business solutions rather than the company's pending private equity move. The four big themes: (1) transforming applications and data centers, (2) optimizing information assets, (3) security and (4) helping customers connect. Here's a live blog from the gathering.
Recap: Dell Software President John Swainson
- The theme: Dell wants to offer the "power to do more: accelerating results."
- Dell had $100 million and 500 people in software in March 2012 when Swainson joined the company.
- Dell now has 6000 people and $1.5 billion in software revenue now. (Side note: A lot of that involved M&A/acquisitions).
- Software is the glue that ties it all together for Dell going forward, he said.
- Rivals like IBM and HP have challenge because they are trying to protect legacy revenue streams. Dell doesn't have that in storage, he asserted.
- He pointed to cloud, security and risk, big data and mobility as the core opportunities and challenges for partners and customers.
- Big Data has been mostily a big-company trend, but Dell wants to make sure big data empowers companies of all sizes.
- Security:: Here Dell's focus includes SecureWorks, SonicWall, Quest Software — this is a $1 billion business for Dell, growing at double-digit rates.
- Systems Management: Quest Software, Wyse, Kace and AppAssure fit here. He didn't mention revenues here.
- Information Management: Here, Boomi, Quest Sofgtware and Dell Data QuickStart appliance.
- "That's the portfolio; it's a good portfolio."
- Dell will differentiate in three ways: Scalable design points so the customer doesn't have to guess in terms of how much capacity they will need.
- Dell will also differentiate by going to market in three ways: Direct, e-commerce and a broad partner program that generates about 35 percent of all commercial revenue.
- Finally, Dell will differentiate through software, hiring 500 salespeople and 300 developers this year.
- New offerings include Total Business Intelligence Suite 2.0 (aka TOAD), Endpoint Security Bundle, Migration Manager for Exchange and Active Directory updates, and enhancements to PartnerDirect — to make the channel program more software partner friendly.
- Dell sells 100,000 Active Directory servers per quarter.
Dell and a Health Care Customer — BYOD Meets HIPAA Compliance
- The conversation is now shifting to Tom Kendra, VP and GM, systems management, DEll Software Group and Jason Thomas, CIO and IT director, Green Clinic.
- Kendra is focusing on BYOD and mobility. Sure, Dell would like to sell more devices. But Kendra's focus is driving IT management of those devices.
- In the BYOD world there are three approaches: Corporate Issued; Choose your own; or Bring your own.
- Thomas, the CIO, is also the HIPAA officer at Green Clinic. That's an interesting mix. He works with the physicians to set policies, and then his team implements those policies. His organization shifted away from paper charts about a year ago because they are inflexible. Physicians are also employee owners. So Thomas has to deliver on their demands.
- Green Clinic shifted to EMR (electronic medical record) system, leveraging WiFi and wireless laptops. But then Doctors started bringing in iPhones, Android devices and iPads.
- Thomas turned to SonicWall, KACE, and other Dell solutions to keep everyone focused on their job. Moving forward, Green Clinic is working on App Container capabilities for MDM.
Recap: Doug Schmidt, Dell Services
- Dell has to be careful here, according to The VAR Guy. Yes, the company has to show services progress. But not at the expense of partners…
- Dell Services is built around four areas: Infrastructure and Cloud Computing; Security; Applications and BPO; Support and Deployment.
- What do all customers want: Proactive support through expertise, intelligence, and technology.
- Dell is launching Pro Support Plus for enterprise customers.
- It sounds like Dell is using a remote monitoring tool (perhaps called Support Assist) to proactively support customers. The VAR Guy is checking on the name and technology, and wonders if it's based on the old Silverback Technologies acquisition.
Recap: Marvin Blough, Executive VP, Worldwide Channels and Alliances, Dell Software and Greg Davis, VP and GM, global commercial channel
- The duo discussed M&A with The VAR Guy — how Dell acquired a range of software companies in a coordinated approach.
- There are a ton of people who understand channels as part of those M&A deals. Blough was a 12-year SonicWall veteran who ran worldwide sales — including channels.
- Rule one in an M&A deal is "do no harm" to the acquired business and their channel partners.
- It's not just about the initial sale; it's about the recurring revenue year after year.
- The goal is a single face of Dell to the partner – without taking away benefits of partner programs from acquired companies. The pattern started with EqualLogic and continues today to SonicWall and Quest, Davis said.
- PartnerDirect and Software: Dell has had a consistent program that rewards partners that invest in training and certification. Now, Dell is promoting specialization across its software programs to partners. Plus, if it sits on a server you can open new lines of revenue streams. "We want them putting solutions together," Davis said.
- Davis reiterated Dell's channel commitment amid the current private equity discussions. "Regardless of the capital structure of the company our channel commitment remains strong," said Davis.
- Partners don't want to switch vendors once they're committed to Dell, asserted Blough. And there's no reason to switch because Dell's value proposition remains strong.
- "Partners are rewarding us for our channel program consistency," said Davis.
- Today is the first big step in terms of unlocking the full value of Quest Software to PartnerDirect partners.
- Dell Software in small business: Most of SonicWall started in small business. AppAssure is very much small business. KACE also plays there.
- Dell Boomi: Partners that are into data management really get it. "It's a hidden gem within the software," said Blough. "The efficiencies and cost savings customers gain are huge."
- Davis's big focus: "Make sure doing business with Dell is easy."
- Dell's acquired software companies each had deal registration. The big area of focus has been synchronization, using Boomi.
Breakout Session: The session includes Green Clinic's CIO (quoted far above) and a range of Dell executives
- Lots of chatter about BYOD in health care.
- CIO Jason Thomas is turing into an IT and compliance rock start here at the gathering.
- Desktop virtualization is entering the conversation.
- User sessions follow nurses and doctors as they move from room to rom, thanks to desktop virtualization.
- The health care provider tied as many systems as possible into Active Directory, so that user identities were consistent.
- Ashrif Motowala, CTO of Identropy is also in the room. He's an identity management expert. The VAR Guy is meeting with him later today.
- Dell sees BYOID and VDI being closely related opportunities.
- Dell's Tom Kendra mentioned that the company is committed to supporting and managing a diverse product base — including Apple, iPad, iPhones and Android. Dell's purchase of Wyse and Quest reinforces that openness.
- Thomas looked at writing native apps for iOS and Android to connect back to servers. But doctors want to work in simple environments like the browser. A lot of medical software has to be approved by the FDA, so Thomas focused on existing software and married it with VDI. Nor did Thomas have budget to hire teams of programmers for iOS and Android.
Recap: Swainson one-on-one
- Side Note: Pardon some of the typos. This was a fast real-time conversation.
- Swainson says he's not distracted by the current private equity chatter, and he's still spending 99 pecent of his time running the software business. "Nothing in this changes in the way we think about products, partners and customers."
- Referring to the pending private equity deal, Swainson said: "Michael has said it more times than he can count: This allows us to go faster in terms of our transformation. But it doesn't change the commitment to channel partners, or our business strategy."
- On managing M&A: "We have aggressively de-siloed these [acquired] businesses." The most recent software acquisition was Sept. 2012 — Quest Software. By January 2013, Dell announced systems management, security and information management as the legs of the software business.
- On PacketTrap, Dell's MSP-focused software business: "We talk about it as an asset that we could enable through more of the low-touch model. It seems to grow organically and virally. It's an important business; we think it can do even bette than it's doing." Swainson added that Dell sometimes wonders if PacketTrap can operate and perform more similarly to SolarWinds, a publicly held IT management company.
- On product consolidation: "Quest had arguably 200 products. What you find is they really didn't have 200. They had way less than 100. The rest were varients: For example, there were 15 versions of FogLight. So what you really had was a FogLight suite. There is some real overlap — like vKernel and FogLight. They hit different point but how do you work through that. The data protection products like AppAssure, vRanger and NetVault — we're in the middle of doing integration on those. And we'll do it in a way that allows us to move threee customer bases forward."
- Dell Software is in the process of hiring 500 salespeople and 300 developers. "We acquired software companies not to operate them, but to build something bigger. The real way you're going to grow a business is by investing in it. Short term, you invest in sales; for the long term you invest in engineering. We're well through this journey. Of the 800 hires, we've hired 400."
- Currently, 40 percent of Dell Software revenue goes through the channel. It's even higher outside the US. "It's a big deal for us. It's an area where there's a lot of opportunity. A relatively small percent of Dell partners today carry Dell software. When it comes to partners, it's about how much you pay them, how much you teach them and how easy you make it for them to sell your solutions."
- Details coming soon
Recap: Mitchell Sharp, CTO, AgreeYa Solutions
- The company is a systems integration. He runs internal infrastructure as well as customers' infrastructure.
- He's been with the company since 2000, and a Quest parter for the past five years.
- Big focus has been SharePoint integrations and VDI.
- The VDI effort has involved health care, call centers, including a 600 person VDI deployment. They wanted to get the data closer to the doctors and nurses. The solution involves Wyse portable devices.
- The company is now working with Dell on data warehousing and a Business Intelligence practice.
- He's also looking at Big Data in a holistic way.
- Company has about 500 US employees, and 500 internationally.
- He thinks health care is still reluctant on public cloud projects.
- Community Cloud is an emerging trend — where multiple customers from the same vertical team up and leverage the same cloid infrastructure.
Recap: Ash Motiwala, CTO, Identropy
- Launched the company in 2006 as a systems integrator.
- Last year, the company launched an identity management platform.
- The company offers cloud connectors to make sure identities are managed across multiple applications.
- The company integrates with Quest's internal provisioning software.
- Core customers are focused on compliance: financial serviecs, health care.
- Fast-growing IPO-ambition companies that want to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley are also signing on.
- Company was boot-strapped until last year and took about $5 million in funding last year.
- He previously led an identity management practice for a firm in New Jersey.
- Priorities for rest of 2013 in terms of the Dell relationship: He's seen success with the Quest relationship. THe goal for the rest of this year is to triple the footprint with Dell. "We're well on our way to doing that."
- "We want to be the cloud identity management company for provisioning and governance."
Closing Thoughts From The VAR Guy
- Exit thoughts from our resident blogger.