Dell highlights its software strategy, with new releases, channel integrationsf

John Swainson at the recent Dell event

On the heels of four major software-focused acquisitions between last March and July, and the hiring of John Swainson to  the new position of President, Dell Software, Dell has been making major enhancements to its software portfolio. On Thursday, the company invited a large assemblage of analysts and media to the Hotel Monaco in downtown San Francisco to announce the next phase of their software strategy.

While many of the media and analysts there expected a dramatic new announcement such as a cutting-edge new solution, or another major acquisition, the reality was more modest. Swainson summed up Dell’s software progress in the little more than a year since he joined the company and restated their core software strategy. Several mobile product announcements were made. For the channel however, the most significant announcement was likely the upcoming formal integration of all the acquired software companies into the Dell Partner Direct program.

Swainson said that in the little more than a year since he joined the company (March 5, 2012) Dell software has grown from  500 people and 100 million of revenue in software products to 6000 people and a billion and a half in revenue.

Dell enjoys some key assets over competitors in software, Swainson said.

“Competitors have legacy profit pools, while we have no legacy profit pools to protect,” he said.  “There are two other things different about our portfolio. One is that with our scalable design point, the customer doesn’t have to guess about capacity. The second is our multi-channel go-to-market – our large direct sales, our 2500 software specialists, who work with direct sales, ecommerce, and a third of our business from channel partners.”

The partner program announcement will see new software-related competencies within the partner program, as well as full integration of all the acquired software programs in the Dell PartnerDirect Program.

“The goal is to have a single partner program at Dell, and we will get there in the U.S. on September 1 and international markets shortly after that,” said  Marvin Blough, Executive Director, Worldwide Channels and Alliances, Dell Software.

Greg Davis, Dell’s Vice President & General Manager Global Commercial Channel, said that while he would have loved to have the integration completed by now, the back-end technical work still needs more time.

“The easy part is integrating the programs,” Davis said. “The hard parts are migrating the order management systems, the deal registration systems, the mapping of the purchasing paths, getting all that IT back-end stuff done to make it truly easy for the partner. Our goal all along has been to make Dell the easiest company to do business with.”

“Once the program is implemented after September 1, partners will be eligible for four new software competencies, in  security, information management, systems management and data protection,” Blough said. “They will have the  ability to specialize in  certain areas.”

Mitchell Sharp, CTO of Agreeya, a Sacramento-based  system integrator with a growing international business, said the changes will strengthen his relationship with Dell, which has been based around legacy Quest Desktop Virtualization and Sharepoint  products, although they are now expanding into BI.

“When we were a Quest partner, it was a good relationship, but the challenge was that Quest as a brand name didn’t exist.” Sharp said. “When I said I was a Quest partner, customers didn’t know want I was talking about, but as a Dell partner, they have an immediate interest in talking.

The new product announcements had a strong mobility orientation, with Swainson announcing that “the big theme today is mobility.”

Tom Kendra, VP & GM, systems management, Dell Software, announced four new Dell mobility solutions, which are bundles of existing Dell hardware and thin clients, security, management, data protection and other software solutions and services.

“We believe BYOD helps productivity, and can radically improve the customer service experience, but 90% of companies have faced setbacks with BYOD,” Kendra said. “We now have an opportunity to come in with sets of capabilities to address this, which is huge.”

The four bundles, with pricing varying depending on what is included, are targeted at: companies looking to extend existing systems management to support BYOD with minimal impact to the organization; companies looking to enhance mobile user experiences by adding cloud computing and cloud-based services into mobile applications; organizations that need to open up access to users that are on campus or remote; and organizations looking to enable new and existing business applications to be modernized and extended to a wide variety of end-user devices.

Dell also announced  a series of new endpoint security enhancements.  to simplify the protection of corporate data regardless of OS or device. On the Dell KACE systems management side, this includes the  expansion of  patch coverage and improved patch availability timelines for the KACE K1000 Management Appliance, as well as the general availability of the KACE 3000 Mobile Management Appliance, which extends established systems management to smartphones and tablets.

“The virtual 3000 MDM piece  and the physical one just launched on the 16th, and the response to that has been good,” said  Dave Kloba , GM of Dell KACE. The plan has been that this needs to be complementary to the K1000. It lets us tell a broader systems management story.”

Dell also announced the latest release of Dell Wyse Client Cloud Manager, which offers enhanced enterprise connectors and integration to Active Directory for automated user management and single sign-on capability. Dell Wyse Cloud Client Manager also includes enhanced mobile application management and integration to Dell Wyse Pocket cloud for managed remote access to corporate apps and data.

A new cloud edition of Dell Data Protection | Encryption (DDP|E)further expands Dell’s ability to secure data at the corporate edge—from endpoint to mobile and now cloud—enabling high levels of PC security. And the latest version of Dell’s Networking W-Series ClearPass, a highly integrated access management solution for managing BYOD, connects to existing networks to manage policies, securely onboard devices, admit guest users, display device usage and perform health assessments.

The  new release of Migration Manager for Exchange, a former Quest product,  offers full coexistence in a seamless, one-step migration from Microsoft Exchange 2000–2003 to Microsoft Exchange 2013. The latest release lets customers streamline migrations which facilitate any on-premise to on-premise, on-premise to cloud or on-premise to hybrid migration, which migrate public folders from Microsoft Exchange 2000–2010 to Microsoft Exchange 2013, and which migrate Microsoft Exchange 2000–2010 mailboxes to Microsoft Office 365 Wave 15 without locking out users from their mailboxes.

In addition, the new release of Migration Manager for Active Directory facilitates efficient migration and restructuring of Active Directory, supporting all of Microsoft’s latest platforms and technologies, including Microsoft Office 365 Wave 15.

On the business intelligence  side, Dell also announced  Toad Business Intelligence Suite 2.0, an update of yet another product acquired from Quest. The new release adds new enhancements designed to further facilitate self-service business intelligence across complex data environments, including extending it to database queries.

“Toad 2.0 makes that product much more attractive,” Sharp said.

So what does all this mean?

Ash Motiwala, CTO and co-founder of Identropy, a Dell integration and service partner focused on identity management, says Dell’s software strategy is fine, but it will be all about execution. Identropy uses the Quest One Identity Manager software acquired with Quest as their on-premise component, together with their own cloud offering, SCUID.

“The key thing for me is integration of the products,” Motiwala said. “I think they have great pieces, but it’s the integration of those that will make them successful. They said today, ‘hey we are at the table,’ and over the next couple years, the question will be, will they lead or be a ‘me-too.’ They have enterprise mobility. They have the best identity management product in the industry. But they need that integration.”

Motiwala said that today, integration is only available through consulting services, like Identropy offers.

“Doing it out of the box is better for the customer, and this will keep our long term relationship with the customer strong,” he said.

Mitchell Sharp of Agreeya also said the key is how Dell knits it all together.

“What I’m looking for is to be able to put together appliances that provide solutions,” he said. “Customers don’t want to buy widgets that have to be put together. If I can say ‘here’s a box, just plug it in’, they are just tickled pink.”

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