Full range of solutions from Dell SA
Dell may have started life as a PC company, but it’s come a long way since then. The vendor now boasts a full array of enterprise IT products and services as well, making it a full-service IT infrastructure company – and one of the few still operating across the whole IT environment.
Bradley Pulford heads up the enterprise sales division at Dell SA, and speaks eloquently about the fact that the conversation in this market nowadays is less about products and specifications than about solutions and helping customers plot their digital transformation journeys.
The world is not an easy place for end user companies these days, Pulford adds. Not only are IT vendors preaching conflicting gospels, but the business environment is undergoing rapid changes.
“The things we are talking about today include the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, mobile working and hyperconvergence – no-one is really talking about performance at the infrastructure layer anymore.”
This doesn’t mean these things are not important, but the customer wants to have a higher-level conversation. “We are not hung up about being an infrastructure-first company; and we are not hung up about the fact that we have great relationships with some of our competitors.” These things are all necessary to be able to deliver the right solution to the customer, he says.
“Customers need choice, and we are well aligned to give it to them. If we are going to be successful moving forward, it will because we have great relationships with all of the players.”
The software-defined data centre is an integral part of the future that customers are looking towards, Pulford says, and Dell is planning now to be ready for that future.
“The journey is based on a couple of things: we start with enabling the data centre; then we ensure that the customer’s workloads are looked after, moving into the virtual world, then software-defined and then into the cloud.
“We by no means think that we can deliver all these things all the time, but we are good at building the right partnerships to make it all a reality.”
The enterprise sales team looks after servers, networking, IoT and cloud opportunities, and has grown its business through partners by 68% over the last year.
Pulford is blunt about the fact that the market is consolidating. “In servers, we used to do 12 000 units per quarter. Now it’s a bout 7 000 to 8 000 per quarter. Storage has seen a massive decline in revenues because customers are just not prepared to pay for capacity.
“So we’ve been good at delivering products, but this has got to change. Now it’s more important to have the right alliances in place to drive solutions.”
Dell has developed reference architectures that make it easy for partners to deploy complex systems. “This takes much of the complexity out of hardware configuration, it increases trust, and speeds deployment,” Pulford says.
“So, regardless of the opportunity you are looking at, those appliances are ready, with reference architectures from Dell; they are pre-built and referenced to simplify implementation.”
A better value proposition with Dell clients
A streamlined product line-up has made it more attractive for partners to sell Dell’s client products.
Chris Buchanan, who runs the client solutions business at Dell, explains how the build to order process that Dell was built on has evolved over the last couple of years to become a channel-centric business.
“When I joined Dell years ago, every order was broken up into units of one that were customised for customers,” he points out. “This was difficult to sustain, and the cost of keeping inventory and supporting the product was ridiculous.
“We realised we had to develop products that meet 80% of customer requirements, and that’s there the catalogue offering was developed. This is broken down further to the catalogue stock offering, which allows us to quickly fulfil orders.
“One of our Achilles’ heels is our geographic location, but now we can turn around product in three to five days,” Buchanan says.
“With the catalogue and catalogue stock model, it’s easier to deliver, prices are competitive, and partners find it easier to work with us.”
Buchanan believes that the client business is still the heartbeat of Dell – “and it’s still profitable,” he says.
“But we still need to differentiate ourselves.”
Dell does that through the quality of its products. “We are very reliable. – and that reliability is not just the product but how we support it in the market. When customers do experience problems, we address them quickly.”
Manageability is another strength. “We can enhance the product with this we have a suite of management tools that help partners to manage large fleets of client devices,” Buchanan says. “And we support product seven years after end of life; this means you can sell a dell client product with a lot of comfort.”
Security is another big issue today. “With the advent of mobility, users are leaving the castle walls, so to speak, taking sensitive information outside the corporate network where it could potentially be targeted. Dell offers incredibly strong security solutions that can help to secure the customer’s whole ecosystem, not just the Dell products. And our security, encryption and containerisation can be deployed easily for better peace of mind.”
Services complete the value-add line-up
Having a good product that’s well-priced and available when the user needs it is a good start in the IT business. But being able to offer top-notch services is key keeping a client happy and coming back for years.
Bradford McKenzie, who looks after Dell SA’s Global Support and Deployment business, says Dell is expanding its world-leading services to add more value and to give channel partners more opportunities to participate.
He points out that the full stack of Dell’s ProSupport services can be delivered by partners: either on their own, in partnership with Dell, or by Dell on behalf of the customer.
Dell SA is also expanding its service offerings to include deployment services under the banner of ProDeploy.
“So we will have ProSupport partners on the break-fix side of the operation, and certified partners that will be able to deploy our solutions at their customer – or we can deliver those services to the customer on behalf of the partner.”
The South African operation was one of the first Dell companies in the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region to launch a certified deployment partner programme.
McKenzie says this is a start in the company’s desire to transform its entire services arm in the same way it did its ProSupport operations.
“I am excited about the year ahead,” he adds. “We have a clear focus on where we want to go.”