Prediction: Dell Will Link SMB Servers to VMware Public Cloud

As part of Dell's buyout of EMC (complete ChannelE2E coverage), the PC giant essentially gains a stake in VMware (VMW). And that could set the table for some very interesting synergies between Dell's channel partner ecosystem, recurring revenues, managed services and VMware's vCloud Air public cloud ambitions.

Think of it this way: Dell has a massive installed base of small business servers. But many small business owners have reached an inflection point. On the one hand, small business servers increasingly need remote management services. On the other hand, many of those small business workloads are shifting to public clouds.

What if Dell and its channel partners found a way to win in both scenarios? Perhaps the company can -- by tapping into VMware's on-premises and cloud technologies. But the journey won't be easy for Dell.

Dell's Managed Services Provider History

Dell has stumbled a few times promoting managed services to SMB channel partners. First, Dell acquired Silverback Technologies in 2007 -- gaining remote monitoring and management (RMM) capabilities. But Dell alienated many of Silverback's MSPs with painful migration roadmaps and a mixed support record.

Next, Dell acquired Quest Software -- which owned PacketTrap, another RMM software provider that also pushed into PSA (professional services automation). But Dell killed the PacketTrap business in 2013, alienating some MSPs for a second time.

Still, Dell has managed to maintained some MSP relationships through other pipelines, including server and storage sales, along with platforms like SecureWorks and SonicWall.

Dell's MSP Opportunity: VMware vCloud Air

Now, along comes the VMware opportunity. And it could look something like this:

  • On premises, Dell's channel partners could increasingly virtualize customers' small and midmarket servers.
  • For those customers that want to shift to a public cloud, Dell's channel partners could promote VMware vCloud Air, the emerging alternative to Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

Naturally, those Dell channel partners could offer ongoing managed services to monitor and optimize the VMware-based workloads, whether they're on-premises or running in vCloud Air.

It sounds pretty straightforward. But Dell has that mixed history with MSPs to overcome. And VMware's MSP initiatives are just ramping up now -- amid Wall Street's growing concern about competition from Amazon Web Services. Indeed, VMware shares have dropped on Oct. 12 and again today (Oct. 13) amid concerns about slowing growth and heightened competition.

Meanwhile, both Amazon and Microsoft have serious cloud momentum with channel partners. The recent AWS re:invent conference, for instance, included a range of new Amazon Web Services for MSPs. Moreover, Microsoft and Amazon continue to build and launch cloud certifications and specializations for their channel partners.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.