No security background, no problem, says Dell security chief Curtis Hutcheson

Hutcheson lays out the strategy for Dell Security Solutions going forward, and where the channel fits in.

Curtis Hutcheson Leans Left 300

Curtis Hutcheson, VP and GM of Dell Security Solutions

LAS VEGAS — This spring, Matt Medeiros, who had run SonicWALL for years, and who had become the vice president and GM of Dell Security Solutions when SonicWALL was acquired, completed the three year term he agreed to stay with Dell to oversee the transition, and retired. In his place, Dell appointed Curtis Hutcheson, who has had an interesting career, successfully running a myriad of different business units – except in security.

Hutcheson was with HP for 13 years, where as VP, Operations he first ran HP’ eCommerce, Quote to Order, and Order to Cash operations across data centre solutions, clients, imaging and printing. He then moved to the hardware client side, as VP & GM of HP’s US Personal Systems Division, where he served until November 2011. At that date, he took a ride on the software side, becoming VP Business Operations, of BMC’s Enterprise Service Management (ESM) business, then GM of BMC’s Remedy subsdiary. Dell hired him in July 2013 – as VP and GM, North America Enterprise Solutions. This May, Dell chose him to move from the datacentre to the security role.

“When filling this position, Dell talked to over 50 people, many of them from the outside, and Michael Dell was personally involved,” Hutcheson said. He indicated that while in the datacentre role, security and access issues were omnipresent, his lack of a past specific security focus hasn’t been an issue.

“We feel very deep on our security knowledge and that hasn’t been our problem,” he said. “I’m not a security expert, but we have the right ones in the division. The team really knows the area, and we have had great feedback on our engineering leadership.”

Hutcheson said he was tapped for the job for one reason — growth.

“This is all about growth,” he said. “There have been internal challenges holding the team back, and we have had some challenges executing. The team is focused on providing the best products. My job is to remove barriers to getting their innovative products out to market.”

Hutcheson said that Dell’s channel had told him several things.

“You want to make sure we have the world’s best products, to ensure that you can deliver customer success,” he told the Dell Security Peak Performance partner audience in his opening keynote. “You wanted our R&D teams to get more money to hire more engineers, and help growth.” That was delivered as well, and Hutcheson said that Dell Security just came off an all-time record Q2.

“You also said bring us marketing,” and Dell unveiled several new initiatives for security partners on the first day of the event.”

“The number one request from VARs to me was ‘help me grow,” Hutcheson emphasized.

“It’s my job to help ensure that when we sell products, to make certain they are successful, so that the customer feels protected, and subsequently renews with us,” Hutcheson said. “It’s also my job to make sure that the channel is stable. You don’t need a PhD in security to know this.”

Hutcheson said that the exact amount of security business that goes through the channel can be hard to quantify and that there are different numbers out there, but that his priority is to increase it.

“About 20-25 per cent of the firewall business goes through Dell – but some of that is also touched by a partner, so the real partner number is higher,” he said. “My goal is for 90 per cent of the Dell business to go through a VAR. We know that in security, satisfaction is higher and renewal rates are higher when a high-value VAR is part of the equation.”

Hutcheson emphasized that a key focus of strategy going forward is encouraging VARs to embrace what he called connected security – combining the SonicWALL value proposition with other Dell security software solutions like identity management and access management, and even Dell networking.

“We are doubling down on connected security, and we think the identity management portfolio will be particularly critical here,” Hutcheson said. “This is the strategy Dell has embraced. It’s based around an incredible amount of information we get about attacks that happen every day.”

This connected security approach is certainly not new. Several partners told ChannelBuzz they considered this had been Dell’s policy for several years. It is, however, certainly being emphasized to a greater degree today, with Dell stressing that every customer needs to have this approach to security – even if not all the components come from Dell.

“We are trying to win the VAR and the SI to this strategy,” Hutcheson said. “We want to convince the high value VARs, they will have a better set of capabilities across the portfolio, even though each are sold in their own way.”

At the same time, Hutcheson emphasized that they have no plans to integrate the different solutions.

“Specialization is still a wonderful thing,” he said. “The market is moving so fast that the last thing we will do in our R&D teams is pull them all together. We are not about that.”

Finally, Hutcheson told the Peak partners that while they are increasing the available rewards, they want them to reinvest that in growth, not in bonuses to owners and staff.

“Partners who invested in the business last year on average grew 40 per cent,” he said.