Dell EMC signs on as VMware distributor, with initial access to top two partner tiers

Out of the gate, Titanium Black and Titanium will be able to buy the VMware offerings for their solutions straight from Dell EMC, which will allow them to get full credit under VMware’s partner program for their purchases.

Cheryl Cook, Dell EMC SVP, Global Channel Marketing

Today Dell EMC is notifying its channel partners that it has become an authorized distributor of VMware, Initially, Dell EMC partners in six countries – which include the United States and Canada – will have access to VMware product through Dell. Initially, only the top two tiers within the partner program – Titanium Black and Titanium, will have access to the VMware product in this way, although the plan is to eventually expand that.

“The announcement is going out today to the partner community,” said Cheryl Cook, Dell EMC SVP, Global Channel Marketing. “Dell EMC has signed an agreement with VMware whereas Dell will act as distributor of VMware licenses to a certain select group of our partners.” It comes on the heels of a similar agreement in July for the U.S. federal business.

Initially, availability through Dell EMC will be limited to six countries – the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, the U.K. and France. That’s slated for relatively quick expansion however, with 25 countries eligible by next year’s fiscal Q1.

The limitation to the top two Dell EMC tiers is motivated by logistical issues, rather than a desire just to reward those groups.

“We will expand eligibility beyond those two tiers,” Cook said. “It’s an issue of setting up the operational ability to serve that big a partner community. We just want to be sure we can make the operating model right. It’s not to deny the other tiers the opportunity.”

Brandon Sweeney, VMware’s SVP of Worldwide Sales and Operations

“It’s sometimes necessary to go slow to go fast later,” said Brandon Sweeney, VMware’s SVP of Worldwide Sales and Operations. “We want to be sure we can operationalize this well.”

Dell’s partnership with VMware long precedes the acquisition of EMC, and they resold VMware before.

“The tricky part was that if you were in both partner programs, you wouldn’t earn your VMware authorized benefits from sourcing from Dell – because we weren’t an authorized VMware distributor,” Cook said.

“This system worked okay this way it before the formation of Dell Technologies, but now we need to take some more friction out of the model,” Sweeney said. “Both us and Dell EMC all got a ton of feedback from partners over the last 90-120 days to make things easier for them. This gives partners a lot more choice.”

Previously, partners who wanted to earn both Dell EMC and VMware benefits needed to acquire the VMware products through distribution, and the distributors will be the losers here. Dell EMC and VMware are both emphasizing that the change simply gives partners a choice of how to buy. While that’s certainly true, a Dell EMC partner wishing to buy VMware through Dell also has to be certified on VMware. That means they are very likely a member of VMware’s partner program as well. So unless they are receiving some powerful value-add services or credit through distribution, it would seem to make little sense for them to forego the VMware program benefits to continue to buy through distribution.

“We have already talked to a lot of the distributors about this,” Sweeny said. “They know that we believe in an open ecosystem, and that this will give partners a lot of choice.”