The new certification is the latest in Dell’s effort to both expand its channel base and the specialization and certification of that base – this time embracing the growing move towards cloud computing in the commercial market as well as the channel.
“Cloud services and solutions are the future, and the time for that future is now,” said Gilles Philippe, marketing manager for commercial channels at Dell Canada.
The program will ultimately have training and certification for three types of cloud-centric partners: cloud builders; cloud providers; and cloud service enablers.
The first group, cloud builders, have training and certification requirements already ready to go, and will represent the group of partners who are building public or private cloud infrastructure for their customers.
The latter two groups do not yet have all of the requirements defined, but will cover partners that are “rolling their own” public or hybrid cloud-based solutions for their customers (cloud providers) and organizations that deal with application integration on others’ cloud services (cloud service enablers).
In all three cases, Philippe said there is ample opportunity for Dell’s existing partner base, as well as a chance to engage with new types of partners with which Dell has not worked in the past.
Membership in the program includes preferred pricing and the other benefits of PartnerDirect Preferred and Premier membership, as well as other channel goodies, including preferred access to Dell’s current and future cloud services and solutions; new cloud-focused marketing campaigns; and representation as a cloud expert to both fellow PartnerDirect members and Dell’s internal sales team through its Find-a-Partner tool.
The new program builds on Dell’s rollout last year of “version 2.0” of PartnerDirect, which added a “Premier” tier for partners who hold two or more Dell certifications. That community now ranks some 24 partners across Canada, and Philippe said that number is likely to continue growing with the launch of the cloud certification, as it requires partners to have server and storage certifications as a pre-requisite. And it follows in Dell’s recent steps to redefine itself for what some are calling the post-PC era – are more than just a builder of laptops and desktops. Dell has been taking great lengths of late to broaden its portfolio of products and services, and to speak more of full business solutions than of particular progducts.
It also reinforces a distinct trend Dell reports worldwide, and Philippe confirms is equally true for the company’s Canadian partners – the more certifications its partners hold, the faster their business grows.
Along with the cloud, server and storage specializations, Dell offers partner certifications in networking, security and systems management.
It’s also a timely release – the data centre and especially the cloud are hot-button topics, and it comes at a time when Philippe says Dell’s “data centre portfolio is the strongest it’s ever been,” with the recent launch of its 12th-generation servers, the introduction of its Force10 networking and AppAssure cloud backup lineups to the core Dell family, and soon its introduction of SonicWall as the latest Dell acquisition.
“Many of our acquisitions have an existing channel component to them, and those partners are grandfathered and embraced into PartnerDirect, while we keep the best of their existing programs and bring that to all of our partners,” Philippe said of Dell’s post-acquisition channel strategy.
Globally, Dell has stated it currently runs about 28 per cent of its global commercial business through the channel. Anecdotally, there has been evidence that number is much higher in parts of Canada, although Philippe said Dell does not disclose its channel/direct mix on a regional basis. He did, however, reiterate CEO Michael Dell’s stance that the company on a global basis would ultimately do about half of its commercial business through the channel in the long run.