Dell Adds Software Competencies to PartnerDirect

Greg Davis, vice president of channels, Dell

Greg Davis, vice president of channels, Dell

Dell has updated its PartnerDirect channel program to include its growing number of software holdings for the first time, adding four new software-focused competencies to its existing five hardware-centric competencies and representing the whole of Dell’s offerings to the channel for the first time.

The Round Rock, Tex.-based company has been building up its software portfolio through acquisition for the last few years, onboarding companies with a variety of go-to-market models, including Quest Software, SonicWall, Kace, AppAssure, and Boomi.

The company is introducing Security, Systems Management, Data Protection, and Information management as software competencies, joining its existing partner specializations in Server, Desktop Virtualization, Networking, Storage, and Cloud Services and Solutions. Each will have their own training path to PartnerDirect’s middle tier, Preferred, while partners with two or more specializations will be eligible for the top tier, Premier, assuming they meet the appropriate run rate. For software competencies, Dell is setting a $50,000 annual clip level to attain Preferred status, and $250,000 for Premier. Both figures are considerably less than the requirements on the hardware side.

For the last two years, Dell has pushed hard on getting more of its partners into the upper tiers of the program, and the introduction of software may be the way to make that happen. Bob Skelley, executive director of global certified partner programs at Dell, said he doesn’t expect the floodgates to open on the top-tier Premier level, but he does expect to “see an influx of partners going after Premier.”

“We want our preferred partners to invest in multiple competencies,” said Greg Davis, worldwide channel chief. “From day one, we have been focused on value-add, training, and competencies. The difference is that five years ago, we didn’t have a whole lot of solutions to train our partners around. We had one competency, really. Now, we have a much deeper solutions discussion to have with partners and with customers.”

The Dell team sees a number of paths for partners expand to multiple competencies, including for information management or systems management partners to add hardware specializations around the data center, partners with existing storage practices to pick up data protection. Frank Vitagliano, vice president of channel sales for North America, said that for many software-focused partners, the opportunity is around using their existing business to drag hardware along with it. “A lot of these partners who’ve had a software competency view it as easy for them to move to full data center solutions with their customers,” he said.

With the software inclusion, Dell also announced that it will offer its pure-play specialist partners a chance to get to the Premier tier through advanced specializations, a more-rigorous training regimen that will allow partners to reach that top tier without expanding into adjacencies. Marvin Blough, executive director of worldwide channels and alliances for Dell Software, said that new training regimen will be offered “as soon as we can,” but that it’s not ready to go yet because of the large number of new training modules that have been developed for the existing software portfolio.

At the same time, Dell is introducing two new channel programs around its software holdings, a service provider program for those who use its software offerings in their own route to market, and a referral program for those who may influence software sales but don’t wish to transact it.

The service provider program targets telcos, hosting providers, and cloud providers, and is born out of a similar service provider program out of Quest. The referral program was also a Quest idea initially, but has been extended to other software holdings. Depending on the level of influence a partner has on a deal, a partner can earn between three and ten percent of the revenue that comes from a customer referred to Dell Software. While the program is focused on Dell Software offerings at the time being, but Darrin Swan, director of sales and business development for the service provider channel, hinted that “Bob [Skelley] and Greg [Davis] are looking at this pretty closely” on the hardware side.”