Dell Talks Up Managed Services With 75 Partners

Dell, in its latest bid to build trust and profitable relationships with managed service providers, hosted a Web seminar for about 75 partners on May 1. More Web seminars are planned, but something far more interesting caught my attention: It seems like some Dell managers truly do have the channel in their DNA.

In fact, Dell's partner team includes channel veterans who have built partner networks for Cisco Systems, ComputerLand and McAfee, just to name a few. And Mike Menegay, director, Dell Business Services, has been a solution provider himself.

Does that mean Dell's partner program will be perfect? Absolutely not. But is Dell sending the right signals to managed service providers? In many cases, yes.

"We're committed to taking the cost out of being a managed service provider," said Menegay during a chat with me on May 1. "MSPs can leverage our world-class data centers. We'll host them in the cloud and they can white-label the service."

Toward that end, Dell continues to meld its recent software as a service (SaaS) and MSP acquisitions into integrated solutions.

Over the next 12 to 18 months, MSPs will see common graphical user interfaces and reporting systems for SilverBack, Everdream and other SaaS-oriented platforms that Dell has acquired, according to Menegay. Dell also plans to bring MessageOne -- an on-demand email solution -- into more of the mainstream partner channel, he adds.

Still Stuck In the Box?

Still, some skeptics have openly wondered if Dell plans to commoditize the market with low prices and rudimentary services. ""We're not commoditizing the market,"asserts Menegay. "We're lifting the market. We do have a direct managed services offering but we're actually telling our partners how we're pricing it."

Within the next two weeks or so, hopes to empower at least two partners to describe recent MSP customer wins that involved Dell working closely with solutions providers, said Menegay.

Despite the apparent progress, Menegay concedes that "We’re going to make mistakes. I know we will."

But he also points to the growing partner DNA within Dell. The Dell team, he notes, had a hand in building channels at McAfee and Cisco Systems. And in the weeks ahead, Menegay and Dell hope to share more about that channel DNA to proponents and skeptics alike.
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