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By | Kelly Fiveash 17th June 2008 09:17

Dell guns for more European channel love

'We're certjustified and we're ancient and we like to roam the land...'

Dell yesterday launched its top tier Certified Partner program in the hope of picking up much-needed sales from the indirect SME, server and storage market.

The computer giant’s EMEA channel veep Josh Claman said that 10,000 registered partners in Europe can help prop up flagging revs and profits at the firm by cosying up to Dell’s certification program.

Dell hopes that its latest offensive will tighten relationships with its partners in the channel, which the firm historically shunned in favour of punting its boxes direct before it looked at its bottom line and realised it could no longer survive alone.

Claman said the firm, which is offering industry certification and skills development under the new program, has been encouraged by the take-up of Dell’s goods among channel partners over the past few months. He claimed that 40 per cent of those who have signed up to its indirect strategy in Europe had never previously done business with Dell.

The firm launched its PartnerDirect channel program in February this year, and, off the back of that, Claman admitted that some tweaks had been required before bringing the certification program to the channel.

“Overwhelming demand in the first weeks required us to add additional people and streamline the registration process,” Claman told The Register.

He said that over the past four months Dell, which is the number two computer maker behind Hewlett-Packard, has been bedding down with the channel by "stablising processes, consolidating our sales team across Europe, making sure that we focus and understand the needs of the partners we’ve inherited."

Cloudy vision

On the firm’s product strategy, Claman told us that the storage and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) acquisitions such as EqualLogic and Everdream made by Dell in recent months were “critical” to helping the firm scoop up more business in the channel.

Michael Buck, the firm’s EMEA marketing director, agreed with that sentiment. He said that the server and storage market “offers key growth for us in the market”, and added: "we want to see partners investing and spending enterprise revenues with us, we would like to see 40 per cent."

Of course one would expect Dell’s European execs to be mindful to follow the party line on cloud computing after the firm’s founder and CEO Michael Dell recently bigged it up as “the new way forward”.

It’s also an opportunity for the company to ignore HP’s surprising tie-up with IT services outfit EDS last month – a move that many saw as a missed chance for Dell.

Claman also put a positive spin on the computer maker’s tardy arrival in the channel. He said: “One of the advantages of coming into the channel late is that we can take a fresh look – we can start with a clean sheet of paper.”

“We’re humbled by the complexity and the dynamic nature of the channel, but we’re very excited about our future here and we think it’s a more positive future than ever before and a more optimistic team than ever before,” he added.

But whether now is a good time for Dell to expand its channel program in Europe, especially given the current gloomy forecasts about the global economy, remains to be seen.

We also asked Claman if the firm has a Plan B in place if its indirect model fails or falters, especially if Dell expands too rapidly in the midst of a tightening of customer spending. Might Dell be forced to pull back on its ambitious channel strategy?

"No need for Plan B. Certification will tighten our relationship with partners. The partner business is playing an important role in Dell's global strategy," he said. ®

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