Channel partner programs, Channel technologies, Vertical markets

Dell IoT Partner Program Set to Engage Systems Integrators

Dell is set to expand its Internet of Things (IoT) partner program from ISVs (independent software vendors) to systems integrators sometime in August or September, ChannelE2E has confirmed. The effort is part of coordinated, curated focus on the commercial IoT market.

Jason Shepherd

First, the big picture: The Dell IoT Solutions Partner Program is not to be confused with Dell's traditional channel partner program (PartnerDirect). Still, some key similarities will emerge over time -- especially as systems integrators surface in the IoT program.

Dell poured the foundation for its IoT partner program in 2014, when Office of the CTO Member Jason Shepherd began to analyze emerging IoT opportunities. His focus involved commercial and industrial use cases -- rather than the consumer sector. On the commercial front, Dell didn't want to start making every IoT widget or sensor. Instead, the company wanted to emerge as the infrastructure provider that powers IoT.

As Shepherd began to map out the commercial IoT market -- and the players within -- he gained funding to launch a formalized partner program for the sector. By about January 2015, he moved out of the Office of the CTO and became director of IoT strategy and partnerships. The team includes partner managers and other team members who are the "eyes and ears" for Dell within and across multiple vertical markets.

The initial Dell IoT Solutions Partner Program now includes nearly 50 ISV partners across multiple solution areas (examples: big data tools, analytics, security, etc.) and seven verticals (communication, energy, healthcare, etc.). Instead of inviting every ISV possible into the program, Dell purposely curated the effort to "match up with the right partners to go solve customer problems."

Dell IoT Partner Program: Next Moves

In the weeks and months ahead, Dell will expand the IoT partner program to include "way more" ISVs that are making an impact in the market. Moreover, the IoT partner program will expand to include systems integrators (SIs).
Instead of reinventing the wheel, the SI partner component will leverage many of the PartnerDirect program engines -- including Premier, Preferred and Registered levels. Customers who visit the Dell IoT Solutions Partner Program website should begin to see systems integrators listed around August or September.

Things get "even more interesting" on a private IoT site that Dell runs internally, Shepherd says. There, you can enter search terms that ensure the right partners bubble up to the top. "In the IoT market, domain expertise rules," he adds. "This market is going vertical long before it's going horizontal because customers need that domain expertise." Dell, he says, is building the right internal and external systems to help the company and customers find the right domain partners.

Dell IoT Partner Program and EMC

Among the big remaining questions: Will Dell expand the IoT partner program to include the EMC partner base?

Dell EMC Channel Chief John Byrne

Already, Dell and EMC have disclosed how their traditional channel partner programs will gradually come together over the next year or so, led by John Byrne.

EMC also is doing some work on the IoT partner front. For starters, the company is explaining how software defined storage (SDS) addresses the IoT challenge and opportunity. And EMC is working with systems integrators on a range of strategic alliances that often involve IoT.

But what about extending Dell's IoT partner program to blanket the EMC channel ecosystem? Dell's buyout of EMC isn't quite finalized yet, so Shepherd declines to comment on specific IoT moves in the EMC ecosystem. However, he offers up a clue that the right steps are being taken. "We're really good at planning..." he notes.

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.