Dell Managed Services Update: Part II

In recent weeks, I've mentioned an emerging Dell-Symantec channel partnership multiple times across our blogs. Now, Dell is sharing some details about the relationship -- which involves management software for servers and desktops. So, how does the Dell-Symantec solution (based on Altiris) compare with the existing Dell Remote Monitoring platform (DRM, formerly called Silverback)? Here are some thoughts.

Dell and Symantec have developed a "Dell Management Console, Powered by Symantec." It's based on Altiris code. I stumbled onto the Dell-Symantec management effort, also known as DMC (short for Dell Management Console), back in October 2009. I've asked Dell for some in-depth phone briefings about DMC but so far those calls haven't worked out.

Starting to Talk

Still, Dell Channel Chief Greg Davis and Paul Shaffer, Dell's director of Worldwide Channel Marketing & North America Programs & Operations, on Nov. 20 offered up some preliminary thoughts on the DMC efforts along with an update on Dell's managed services strategy. The comments were part of a broader channel update call from Dell. Essentially that blog entry (part I) set the stage for this blog entry (part II).

Then, more progress today:
  • Dell's channel blog on Nov. 23 said Dell and Symantec had officially announced a DMC Partner Enablement Program -- though I haven't spotted an official press release from Dell or Symantec.
  • Also on Nov. 23, a Dell spokeswoman answered my email and offered more details on the Dell-Symantec DMC effort, and how it compares to Dell's existing DRM (formerly Silverback) platform.
According to the Dell spokeswoman:
  • The [Dell-Symantec] DMC is an "out-of-the-box" element manager included with Dell servers. If partners would like to upgrade via plug-ins and add-ons, they may do so, and they'll get the same functionality as the Altiris product.
  • In contrast, the DRM is Dell's MSP platform.  It is a hosted, multi-tenant solution built for MSPs and is the basis for Dell's MSP certification program, along with Everdream.

Dell-Symantec vs. Dell Silverback: Not to Be Confused

So how does Dell-Symantec DMC compare/contrast to Dell DRM (formerly Silverback). Apparently, the two offerings are positioned for different opportunities.

The Dell spokeswoman says:

  • The [Dell-Symantec] DMC monitors servers and desktops.  It does not monitor network devices. The business opportunity for partners for the DMC is the implementation and integration of the DMC tool at customer sites.
  • The DRM [formerly Silverback] allows MSPs to monitor everything on their customer's network--servers, OS, network devices, desktops/laptops, peripherals and applications. Partners also receive training/consulting through Dell's MSP Business Builder program when they invest in the DRM. The DRM allows partners to build a remote monitoring/MSP business.
I also asked if Dell was committed to growing its certified managed services business. The spokeswoman assured MSPmentor that Dell is "adding new [MSP] partners every quarter, and our migration from the legacy appliance version of the platform to the hosted version of the platform resulted in some losses and some offsetting gains. If we looked at the number of partners we've added (and had no migration losses), we would have had strong double-digit growth. As we move past the migration, we expect the situation to stabilize and the number of recruits to the MSP program to increase."

Say More, Not Less

I appreciate the updates from Dell. To the company's credit, Davis and Shaffer delivered multiple channel briefings on Nov. 20, only hours after Davis returned from foreign travel and during a day when Wall Street was questioning Dell's most recent quarterly results.

Dell has done a solid job communicating about traditional channel efforts like partner registration and certification. And Dell hasn't hidden the fact that it's selling managed services direct.

But looking ahead, Dell has to communicate far more aggressively about how the Dell-Symantec, Dell Remote Monitoring, Everdream and MesssageOne SaaS efforts will (A) potentially converge and (B) play in the channel. Deal registration programs are basic check-marks for most VARs and MSPs. True SaaS offerings require far more communication with channel partners and the channel media.

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