Mark Davison at Dell’s Technology Camp, Paris – It wasn’t that long ago that Dell was considered as purely a hardware organisation that looked doomed in a world moving towards an era of “total solutions”, but in the space of 18 months it has created one of the Top 20 software companies in the world.

Marvin Blough, executive director, worldwide sales of Dell Sonicwall, says that through the acquisition of companies such as Quest and Sonicwall – there have been 10 acquisitions in total – the company has firmly stamped its intentions on the software world.

“If you go back 18 months ago, there was no such thing as a Software Group within Dell,” Blough says. “Now, we have formed a group that has over $1,5-billion in revenues, more than 6 000 employees, and ships over 200 products, nine of which are in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant. Our Software Group is now one of the Top 20 software companies in the world and demonstrates that Dell is absolutely serious about software.”

Blough says that there has been tremendous interest within the channel around Dell’s software and that more than 1 400 partners had registered for competencies since they were launched in September.

He says that as the industry moves towards total solutions, no other company is now better-placed than Dell to service it.

“Customers are moving to cloud, everyone is looking at mobile solutions and, finally, all this is creating an explosion of data which people don’t know how to deal with,” he says. “As we move to this new model, it breaks all other models. Security, for example, the way we store data … and we’re moving along with customers as they do this. Dell is already in all these businesses – we’re a huge player in data centres and cloud. And a big part of all that data is already on Dell servers.

“In mobile, we’ve always been a big player,” Blough adds. “And now we have to add things like software and security – the things that customers are asking for. We’re not creating new things, we’re just leveraging off what Dell already does. We’re moving to solutions instead of just the pieces.”

So what’s in it for partners? Blough asks.

“Customers want to move in this direction, but they don’t know how,” he answers. “They want to move to cloud, they want to move to BYOD, but they don’t know how. So for partners, that is a huge opportunity, because they need help in getting there.

“When you talk about end-to-end solutions, you are talking about taking multiple products and making them work together,” he continues. “There’s no such thing as BYOD in a Box because every customer is different, so there is an opportunity there for partners to put things together. It screams for a channel model.

“You’re integrating things, managing things – and that screams for channel,” Blough says. “And the channel is going to be even more crucial when it comes to software.”

And Dell, he says, is making it as simple as possible for partners to participate in this new environment.

“Because there are so many different business models, we’re trying to make our programme flexible enough that a partner can take any one of these business models and participate at any level they want,” he says. “If you want to do systems management, we’ll enable you; if you want to do something more general, we can help you achieve that too.

“We feel we’ve done a good job and the feedback has been positive on the way we’ve designed the programme,” Blough adds. “We’re doing everything we can to encourage partners to get involved, to look at the various product lines, and to decide which business models are best-suited to them.”