Place to be is the channel as channel momentum is on fire: Dell channel chief Dagher

Dell’s global channel chief Rola Dagher talked with ChannelBuzz about the state of the Dell channel today, and the priorities for the rest of the year ahead.

Rola Dagher, Dell Global Channel Chief

Dell Technologies had a strong Q1, with the channel doing exceptionally well as part of that.

“In Q1, the place to be was the channel,” said Rola Dagher, Global Channel Chief at Dell Technologies. “We had a strong first quarter, and are extremely excited about the road ahead.”

Dell’s overall first quarter revenue was a record $24.5 billion, up 12%, driven by broad growth across the Infrastructure Solutions, Client Solutions and VMware business units.

Infrastructure Solutions Group revenue for the first quarter was $7.9 billion, up 5%as customers. Servers and networking revenue was $4.1 billion, while storage revenue was $3.8 billion. The Client Solutions Group saw a record revenue for the first quarter of $13.3 billion, up 20% year-over-year. The commercial business saw 14% growth, at $9.8 billion, while consumer revenues were $3.5 billion, up 42%. VMware revenue was $3.0 billion, up 9%.

Dagher emphasized, however, that the channel performance, which has seen $54 billion in orders over the last 12 months, exceeded these overall numbers.

“In Q1, the channel momentum was on fire,” she said. “Channel orders’ revenue was up 14% year-over-year. Client solutions revenue was up 21% from the prior quarter. Servers were up 12%, especially through the distribution channel. Storage was up 3%.”

Midrange storage has been a strong Dell channel priority in recent years, reflecting the fact it has been an increasingly tough market for the big OEMs. Weighed against that, Dagher doesn’t see the 3% growth number as problematic.

“I would characterize our view on the 3% as ‘pleased but not satisfied,’” she said, citing a well-known line of Michael Dell’s. “The key word here is innovation. How do companies innovate and provide that in the digital transformation world. Our PowerStore 500 [a lower midmarket version of the PowerStore announced in late April] is all new innovation we are bringing to the market. 20% of PowerStore buyers are new to Dell, and 25% of the PowerStore buys were competitive displacements. Everyone still needs storage. It’s how you consume it and how you innovate.”

Dagher also stressed the significance of Dell’s announcement at the recent Dell Technologies World that it has brought its first APEX consumption-based services to market, following up on the original Project APEX announcement last fall, when it was still just a vision.

“My outlook on APEX is that it is the next evolution of what we have been building on for decades in Dell, and aligning with customer and partner strategies,” she said. “It will drive incremental revenue growth in the future. Will every partner be ready for this model? No. The partners that are adopting it now are the ones that are quicker to market. We are working with the partners that are ready for the as-a-service model. Some partners are comfortable where they are, and we are fine with that.”

The early APEX adopters are a mix of partner types.

“It includes GSIs, big solution providers, distribution channels, and new cloud partners who don’t know the old world,” she said “We have designed the program around APEX to be extremely attractive. Today, it’s a turnkey referral. Solution partners are eligible for a referral fee of up to 30%, while Flex-on-Demand earns up to 20%. A resell option is coming up in the second half of the year.”

Dagher then turned to the priorities that Dell will be following on the channel side this year.

“We have changed our statement in terms of where we want to drive our channel business to ‘Together we stop at nothing,’” she said. “We have been enhancing the end-to-end partnership experience, raising the bar with automated tools and processes, to build on partner predictability across the entire portfolio.”

Dagher said that they are also prioritizing accelerating partners with leading technology.

“We are focusing on leveraging VMware, and doubling down on consumption based as-a-service,” she stated.

“We are also activating partnerships to advance sustainability,” Dagher said. “Earlier this year, we modified MDF funding to let partners make charitable donations. We also expanded our networking mentoring and support for woman across peer to peer networks, and are now in position to take this across all our partners.

“The last 18 months has been exciting to see where technology keeps going,” Dagher concluded. “More than ever, the focus needs to continue to be on what our customers ask for and how partners can continue to adapt to new ways of doing business. So that increases our focus on how to enhance the partner experience and how to make technology an equalizer.”