Dell’s distribution push starting to pay off

Dell is seeing significant growth through distribution as it ramps up its activity with disties, including a return to working with Ingram Micro Canada.

Dell global channel chief Cheryl Cook

Dell global channel chief Cheryl Cook

Dell’s decision to get active in distribution earlier this year is paying off, as the company has recorded significant growth in both the number of partners buying through distribution, and revenue done through distribution.

In a meeting at this week’s VMworld conference in San Francisco, Dell global channel chief Cheryl Cook told that the company has seen the number of partners buying through distribution increase by double digits, while revenue through disties are up in the triple digits. Distribution is still a small part of the overall mix, but Cook said it’s important to Dell to offer partners choices in how they source and purchase the company’s products.

“We’re delighted by the pace we’re seeing [with distribution],” Cook said. “We’ve always been about customer choice, and I want to advocate partner choice as well.”

Ultimately, that will mean more of the company’s ever-expanding lineup of offerings moving to the channel through distribution. Today, a decent amount of the company client devices, many servers, and some software offerings are available to PartnerDirect members through distribution. Cook said she’d like to see that expanded to see a broader swath of the company’s enterprise offerings, including networking, storage, and security, flowing through disties in the near future.

The vendor has been active here in Canada as well, recently bringing Ingram Micro Canada on board as its first broadline distributor since the experiment with providing a very limited number of desktop and laptop SKUs available through Ingram, Tech Data and others in the very early days of PartnerDirect. That effort, by all accounts, fizzled quickly, as the company was still very focused on the “Direct” in PartnerDirect at the time. But with the company’s offerings expanding, and its channel expanding faster still, it decided earlier this year that it made sense to revisit the role of distribution in its plans, tasking channel veteran Frank Vitagliano with making it happen. In the U.S., the company is working with both Ingram Micro and Tech Data. Cook didn’t rule out the possibility of engaging with Tech Data Canada, or with other broadline distributors in Canada, in the long run, but said that for now, the focus is on getting Ingram Micro “activated and making sure all the right interfaces are in place.”

“If we need to expand over time, we will. But we want to make sure this relationship is off to a healthy start,” she said.

While Cook said “never say never” when it comes to value-added distributors, she seemed less certain that the company needed to engage with the Avnets and Arrows of the market, noting that many of its data centre offerings and converged architecture options are pre-integrated and pre-installed by Dell before going to distribution, negating much of the integration value-add those distributors can provide.

With North America at least starting to be set up, Dell seems to be turning its distribution attention international, recently activating Ingram Micro in Germany, Cook said.