Whether they're one of the largest solution providers in the market, like World Wide Technology, or a smaller player like Hipskind Technologies, those laying out aggressive plans for growth with Dell EMC are reaping the rewards. That growth is coming from customers large and small whose needs range from the traditional to the cutting edge. Solution providers say the ability to stitch together effective, customized solutions and services that can demonstrate clear value to customers is a winning strategy.
Dell Technologies Chairman and CEO Michael Dell argues that customers want to do business with fewer vendors rather than more. World Wide Technology, Hipskind and MicroAge executives would agree and, in some cases, might add that those customers are willing to pay more in the process.
[Related: Dell EMC World 2017]
Driving 'Bigger Deals, Better Margins' With Dell EMC And An Advanced Approach
For Bob Olwig and World Wide Technology, being a Dell EMC channel partner is all about offering solutions that are far more than the sum of their parts.
"We are able to demonstrate VBlock with enterprise hybrid cloud technology from VMware and we are able to prove to customers how these solutions work in total, not just the piece parts," Olwig said as an example of how WWT is able to formulate powerful solutions using Dell EMC's broad portfolio.
The result is market leadership for both Dell EMC and its partners, Olwig said. WWT's revenue grew about 26 percent overall between 2015 and 2016 in what Olwig, vice president of business development and innovation, called "a fantastic, record-setting year." He's confident that it will grow another 20 percent this year, and he sees no reason why its Dell EMC business won't see the same increase.
One of the primary drivers of that success is St. Louis-based WWT's approach, which Olwig said meshes perfectly with Dell EMC's drive to be "No. 1 in everything, all in one place." About seven years ago, WWT, a longtime EMC partner, established an advanced technology lab, and the lab has become a vital proving ground for WWT and Dell EMC solutions, Olwig said.
"Deals are bigger, margins are better," Olwig said. "The multi-technology solutions — storage, compute, along with software and services — for us, the value we're adding isn't just after they've bought it and we design it and deploy it, we're starting very early with our advanced technology center and our labs and providing customers access to innovation. They're being exposed to the Dell EMC portfolio in a real-world environment. Customers really value the independent viewpoint that World Wide Technology has and how we're able to show these technologies from Dell EMC and how it would work in their specific environment."
That approach paid off in one recent deal with a global service provider, Olwig said. That customer did more than 50 proofs-of-concept in 18 months in WWT's lab on its way to deploying a Dell EMC solution. Another global service provider that's been working with WWT for almost two years is on a similar track, Olwig said.
"They're doing everything from functionality testing to performance testing. They've told us we're enabling them to be fast. We're helping them act like a startup. They have a lot of capabilities themselves, but they believe they have better access to innovation through our advanced technology center," he said.
"Customers appreciate us just validating what they're doing with Dell EMC," Olwig said. "We have really good insight into what works and what doesn't work. We're gaining a lot of expertise by vertical industry, whether it's financial services or health care, and clients value working with a solution provider like World Wide Technology for all of their spend."
Poised For Growth As Dell EMC, VMware Software-Defined Solutions Gain Traction With SMBs
Mark McKeever has seen the future, and it is software-defined and dominated by Dell EMC. McKeever, partner at MicroAge, a Tempe, Ariz.-based solution provider, is seeing software-defined technology move down into his firm's wheelhouse among small enterprise and SMB customers. The trend has the longtime Dell partner planning for expansion into new vertical markets and doubling down on technology from Dell EMC and VMware.
So far, McKeever is hearing all the right things from Dell EMC's leaders and is closing deals that point to a fast-paced, high-growth future.
MicroAge began ramping up its EMC business before the acquisition by Dell closed last September. And already, the relationship has begun to bear fruit. "Right at the end of last year, we had an opportunity and closed a $5 million EMC SAN, and that's a big deal. The timing was very good for us because it bolstered our EMC numbers and it shows us sticking to the commitments we made to have a stronger business with EMC. They want to go where we want to go."
MicroAge is also primed for growth with software-defined technologies — like VMware's vSAN software-defined storage and NSX software-defined networking solutions — as they find their way to customers that the solution provider serves.
"We're really pushing our vSAN and NSX business," McKeever said. "Those are really exciting areas for us. Virtualization is game-changing.
Everybody is clear on the saturation in the market with server virtualization and the natural extension is into storage and network virtualization. Desktop virtualization, too, is maturing rapidly. Those are really incredibly exciting frontiers, and VMware is really way out in front of everybody. The ability to virtualize all three is really profound. You can see how that's going to be challenging for people who want to compete with that with proprietary hardware solutions."
McKeever noted that SMB represents about $300 billion of the overall $2.7 trillion IT market. "A lot of people are not in that enterprise space, and Dell has made great strides in the channel in the last nine or 10 years, so when technology like software-defined comes down into our market, it's exciting," McKeever said. "NSX is coming down into our market. vSAN can really work in SMB really well and it's rapidly adopting. The marketplace is awakening to it. The very traditional SMB isn't an early adopter. They can't be. There's a lot of excitement and that market is percolating up now as those products mature. That's when we come in. These products are enterprise-class products pioneered in a much larger client size, the $1 billion-plus players."
MicroAge has about 140 employees and last year booked revenue of about $130 million, and McKeever said the company is primed for growth, especially as it organizes its sales efforts around individual practices. "A lot of the growth we're looking at is practice-based. It's a much stronger solution sale. Looking at large transactions that are practice-based, whether it's security related, virtualization related or communications related. Those are key areas for us and we have ideas for other practices we can get into. I'm pedal to the metal on that right now."
Picking Up The Cloud Pace, Making The Case For Dell EMC's Long-Term Value
If you need proof that customers are moving fast, just look at Steve Hipskind. The president of Chicago-based Hipskind Technologies found himself sitting at the airport alongside his 12-year-old son one recent Friday afternoon, heeding an urgent request from a customer to come to Hipskind's data center in Atlanta for a weekend meeting.
"They're in such a hurry that they asked if it was possible to come for the weekend," Hipskind said. "It's a great customer of ours that's growing very quickly, so I said, 'Absolutely.' I told the customer I'm going to bring my kid, and he said, 'Awesome,' and he's going to set something up for him to do. That's where the market's at. They have business objectives that they need to meet. They need to hit these and get to market as soon as possible. People set budgets and time frames and they're sticking to them now."
Hipskind Technologies splits its business into two sides, a traditional reseller business and a cloud provider business. And both are growing so rapidly that the 70-person company could increase its headcount by more than 30 percent this year, he said.
"Dell EMC is very well positioned," Hipskind said. "People are on-prem, or going to the cloud, especially hybrid clouds like Hipskind. If they're not getting the cloud stuff, they're getting the on-prem stuff and, in a lot of cases, those infrastructures are built with what Dell EMC brings to the table. The cloud business is so large that there's room for the [Microsoft] Azures and the AWSes, but there's room out there for Hipskind Technologies, too."
And in addition to the strongly accelerating pace of the business, Hipskind has noticed another trend stoked by Dell EMC's ability to deliver complete solutions. "Price points that are higher are being absorbed by the 'better together' message," he said.
In one recent deal, Hipskind Technologies put a Dell EMC solution up against other large vendors, as well as smaller storage startups. The customer is in the food industry, and Hipskind Technologies' bid was twice the customer's budget.
"Their budget was half what we presented and the customer bit off on it, found the budget and had the Dell EMC team help justify the overage to their company because of the long-term savings that Dell EMC brings to the table," Hipskind said. "If you were to tell me hypothetically you have a $100,000 budget and I present you with a $200,000 solution, traditionally you'd say, 'Wait a minute,' and they're a very traditional business. That's what Dell EMC does."