Dell gives security partners strong ‘Peak is back’ message

Dell kicks off its security event in Orlando, impressing upon SonicWALL partners, some of whom still have concerns about Dell as a vendor, that Dell's channel commitment is 100% genuine and will continue to improve.


Matt Medeiros, VP and GM, Security Products, Dell Software Group

ORLANDO – After a three-year hiatus, the old SonicWALL Peak event is back, under the Dell brand. The Dell Security Peak Performance event, which is specifically for the most productive SonicWALL partners, was quickly filled up once registrations opened and attracted over 600 Dell partners.

“We are back, we are back, wav overdue, way overdue – we know that, said Matt Medeiros, VP and GM, Security Products, Dell Software Group. He was referring to the suspension of the event following SonicWALL’s acquisition by Dell. Mediros promised partners they would learn everything that has happened since SonicWALL joined Dell, as well as get a transparent road map update on where Dell is headed in security over the next year.

“Together we are going to take security and are going to create it as an enabler for business,” Medeiros told partners. “Our promise to you and our customers is continue on that destiny, to security something that isn’t a penalty, but is an enabler, for business advantage. Is there fine tuning that has to be done? Of course. But directionally, we are on the right way.”

Medeiros said a critical part of Dell’s strategy to get to the top of the mountain in security will be to leverage its ability to produce full IT stacks, even in the wake of both HP and Symantec’s decisions that splitting their companies will make them more effective.

“We think the advantage of having the critical IT stacks will be to our advantage,” Medeiros said, and that it will put Dell in a better competitive position in security than being small, focused and discrete.”

Medeiros said a survey of 120 random partners from the event indicated 82 per cent think that profitability is critical in a successful partner program.

“If I can’t be profitable selling your solution, I can’t sell it,” was the clear message here, Medeiros said, something Dell believes it has addressed.

72 per cent also said training was vital.

“That’s what this whole week is about,” Medeiros said. “You will get a better understanding technically of what our capabilities are.”

63 per cent of partners also said it is very important to offer network and mobile security from a single vendor, while only 7 per cent said it was not.

Medeiros said the breakneck pace of IT change requires partners to consider investing in non-traditional opportunities, which includes not just thinking about mobility in the computing paradigm, because modern cars, particularly at the high end like Tesla, have a massive amount of computing power. Marvin Blough, executive director of worldwide channels and alliances, Dell Software, who followed Medeiros on stage, noted that change is great for Dell and its partners because customers don’t know how to take advantage of it alone.

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Marvin Blough, executive director of worldwide channels and alliances, Dell Software

“Customers don’t know how to move applications, and it breaks all the security they have in place already,” Blough said. “But Dell doesn’t know how to do this either. This is a partner business.

“Software-defined networking will break everything as well,” he added. “We keep inventing things that break the security we have in place today.”

Blough noted a common criticism of Dell was that barely a third of business – 37% — is channel, but also noted that 37% was $25 billion worth of revenue, that it was zero 10 years ago, and that it is going to grow. Medeiros also pointed out that 60 per cent of the Dell Software Group’s business goes through channels, and that 90% of SonicWALL business does.

Dave Hansen, Global VP and GM, Dell Software Sales, who is in charge of all routes to market for the Dell Software group, also stressed that “channels is absolutely our focus on getting Dell SonicWALL to market.”

Hansen only recently arrived at Dell. After starting out as a Novell CNE – he quipped that “there are no jobs for that any more” – he ran identity management for CA and then moved on to CEO jobs, most recently at SafeNet, where he had an opportunity to put his ideas about channel philosophy into practice.

“My thesis is that the best way for a company to grow isn’t hiring more direct sales people, it’s building a partner engagement model that really works,” he said. “To have a partner community that has the domain knowledge is so much more powerful to the vendor.”

Hansen said that the success of the SonicWALL acquisition has been really clear at Dell, although he acknowledged that many partners want them to even more with the product portfolio.

“We are going to be very clear about re-engaging going forward,” he said. “Michael [Dell] says how critical this space is to Dell. Things you have asked from in the past we were not willing to do – we are now more willing to do those things. Tell us what you need from us.”