Dell looks to expand partner services with Project Harmony

Project Harmony was the one new initiative specifically for partners announced at this year’s Dell Technologies World, within the context of a news-rich event which will create many other partner opportunities.

Rola Dagher, Global Channel Chief at Dell Technologies, onstage at the 2023 Partner Summit

LAS VEGAS – At the Dell Global Partner Summit, part of this week’s Dell Technologies World, Dell executives gave the customary salutations and congratulations to their channel partners as they reiterated their commitment to partners within their corporate strategy. They recapped the many announcements of significance at the event, indicating specifically how they will be of benefit to partners. And they dropped a partner-centric announcement which had not previously been announced onstage. Project Harmony is designed to strengthen partner services by allowing them to purchase Dell services at a discount and integrate them into their own services solutions.

“You are looking for a strong partner to solve all of your customers’ complex needs – with a profitable return,” said Rola Dagher, Global Channel Chief at Dell Technologies, in kicking off the Summit. “This week at Dell Technologies World is a huge opportunity for all of you.”

Dagher emphasized that Dell had doubled down on these requirements at this year’s Dell Technologies World.

“We now offer customer choice profitability with APEX,” she said. “We have strengthened our ISG portfolio. We are also playing on our ESG strength. Gone are the days when we didn’t want to make a huge impact on our communities. Now we have things like Solar Community Hubs, and Asset Recovery Services powering circular recovery.

“You will hear from us on our strategy, and how we are going to maximize financial returns on our partnership, and how we will win together,” Dagher said.

Michael Dell then took the stage to discuss where partners fit into Dell’s overall strategy.

“It is through the incredible strength of the partner community that we have been able to build,” he said. “Partners help us to listen and learn from our customers and help them move their businesses forward.”

Dell cited an example of a customer who came to Dell wanting to know how they could replicate in their own business a green initiative Dell had used elsewhere.

“We talked with our team, and then we got five partners together and got a green sustainability outcome,” he said.

Asked where partners should be going next, Dell exhorted ‘APEX,’ and then went into a discussion of the process partners should be using to succeed.

“We do have a winning strategy – listening to customers and staying on top of the latest trends,” he said. “We capitalize on the reach you all have.”

Chuck Whitten, Dell’s co-COO, then went into more detail on Dell’s strategy and why the company thinks it dovetails well with today’s opportunities.

“We have positioned Dell Technologies perfectly for this moment in technology,’ he said. “We are in the centre of all these major things. We are executing real breakthrough innovation in the edge, in cloud, and in security, and we are just getting started on all these topics.”

Whitten also stressed how partners are central to all of this, noting that they bring in half of Dell’s income.

“Our entire strategy is premised on partnerships,” he said. “We need to be at the centre of the tech ecosystem. Our alliances with our vendor partners also extends to this room, as you have insights that we don’t. We promise to keep partnerships at the centre of our strategy.”

Whitten then reviewed the significance of the major announcements at this year’s event for partners.

“The multi-cloud announcements were a big deal,” he said. “Customers are having a real reckoning with cloud, and there is a wave of optimization discussions going on. They are not going back to unicloud offerings. Our announcements here provide building blocks and tools for this around both ‘ground to cloud’ and ‘cloud to ground,’ and unlocks opportunities that would have previously been captive to the public cloud.”

Whitten also emphasized the importance of Dell’s fulfilling their commitment to extend APEX across their portfolio.

“Customers want a cloud experience while stretching their IT dollar,” he said. “APEX does both. As a partner, you can resell it, host it for your own value-added services, or refer it to us when that is appropriate.”

Whitten also referred to the significance of several other major announcements.

NativeEdge is a horizontal building block designed to take advantage of our vertical experience,” he said. “Project Helix and our partnership with NVIDIA takes advantage of the fact that companies need purpose-built models applied to private data sets. This is all industry tested and will be industry leading. Ad hoc solutions will not work at scale.”

Project Fort Zero, which is a zero trust offering being built around Department of Defense specifications for approval by them, will also have broad applicability.

“Project Fort Zero will be a proving ground for future commercialized solutions with zero trust at their core,” Whitten stated.

Whitten also made one major announcement which was being formally made on stage at the event for the first time.

“Being partner-centric means we need to be good listeners,” he said. “Partners are in the outcomes business. They need to constantly grow their expertise, and that’s hard. So today we are announcing Project Harmony, which is focused on professional services. You will be able to integrate Dell services into your own. You purchase them at a discount and embed them in your solutions.”

Steve Brazier, President and CEO at analyst firm Canalys, then took the stage to give partners his view on how the industry is changing, and how they need to change with it.

“Generative AI is changing the world and if you don’t get on it, you will be bypassed by other partners who move faster than you,” he said. “You can’t recruit to gain expertise fast because talent is limited and is being snapped up by the likes of Amazon and Google. You have to develop Generative AI internally if you haven’t already. By the end of this year, you should be selling AI Advisory Services to your customers. It’s up to the channel to educate the industry about what must be kept private.”

Despite the uncertain economy, Bill Scannell, president of Global Sales and Customer Operations at Dell Technologies, told partners that their mutual customers are still investing.

“Because of the economy, there may be some additional steps in the approval process, but we are seeing a huge uptake of AI deals popping out of nowhere,” he said. “These aren’t small deals. We need to figure out where the opportunity is and go out arm and arm together.”

Denise Millard, SVP of Global Aliances at Dell, reiterated the strategic importance of all this.

“The ecosystems we made will open up a new set of opportunities for all of us,” she said. “APEX is now playing a very significant role in our Go-to-Market. We  have the ability to open up an entire new ecosystem with what we announced this week.”