Michael Dell talks security, channels to security partners

Dell's CEO gave advice to partners on how to improve their businesses and indicated more channel enhancements will be announced at Dell World next month.

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Dell CEO Michael Dell

ORLANDO – On Monday, Michael Dell made an appearance at the relaunched Dell Security Peak Performance event, the old pre-acquisition SonicWALL event for the premier partners in that space. The leader and largest shareholder of the now-private company (Michael owns 75 per cent of Dell, private equity only 25 per cent) stressed that the channel has been critical to Dell’s improved performance since it went private.

“It was hard to get to be private, but now that we are private, it’s a lot easier,” Dell told the audience. “We have an improved growth rate in all our businesses.”

Dell pointed to IDC’s Q3 year-over-year PC data, noting that Dell’s growth rate over the last year was significantly higher than its competitors.

“IDC says we grew shipments 19.7% last quarter,” he said. “The rest of the industry combined grew .2%, while we grew 19.7%, in large part thanks to our partner community.”

Dell emphasized that the company’s big push is in converged infrastructure, somewhere that savvy partners with potential in this space should be as well.

“Converged infrastructure is the big megatrend,” he said. “It makes it easier to extrapolate problems to a higher level. We are big believers in converged infrastructure.

“Successful channel companies are always evolving their capabilities –private cloud, security, converged infrastructure,” Dell told partners. “I think vectoring into those opportunities in your own unique way is the way to success.”

Dell SonicWALL partners need to expand their practices both into broader security opportunities as well as complementary aspects of Dell’s software business.

“Network security partners need to expand into adjacent opportunities,” Dell said.

A SonicWALL partner in the Q&A said that he really had no idea how to do this, something that senior executives said later was a valuable contribution, because it raised a point of critical importance that most partners would not admit in public.

Dell as a company also needs to do a better job of helping these focused partners expand their security practices, however.

Matt Medeiros, VP and GM, Security Products, Dell Software Group, who was onstage with Michael Dell, said Dell Security, which was built through the acquisition of different companies, needs to go to market with a more coherent total solution message.

“I think we need to profile Dell’s end-to-end security solutions better than we have been doing,” he said. “We still look too siloed and more fragmented than necessary.”

Michael Dell also reflected on Dell’s enterprise strategy, in the wake of HP’s decision to break its PC and printing division into a separate company, as well as the position of the SMB sector, which Dell originally built its business on, as the company builds a stronger enterprise presence.

“We continue to believe bringing a complete set of solutions in very important,” Dell said, “We now have 11 different partner competencies, and a very complete set of solutions end-to-end.”

Dell also reaffirmed the company’s commitment to the SMB space, where many of the SonicWALL partners at the event continue to be focused, particularly the micro segment of sub-100 employee companies.

“A lot of the large companies in the industry have been focused on the largest customers, but the biggest and fastest growing part of the industry is the SMB market,” Dell said. “Make no mistake, we are not afraid to sell to large companies too, but let’s go where the growth is.” He pointed to recent innovative actions by Dell in the SMB space as evidence of this focus, particularly their partnership earlier this year with hyper-converged infrastructure Nutanix on a Dell-branded appliance.

“Nutanix with Dell is great SMB infrastructure,” Dell said. “It’s converged infrastructure in a box.”

Dell also promised more channel initiatives would be revealed at Dell World at the beginning of November.

“At Dell World, we will announce new incentives and programs to expand together with our channel partners,” he said.