Dell’s channel chief says security is at the heart of everything

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Dell’s channel chief says security is at the heart of everything
Rola Daghr (Dell)

Cybersecurity took center stage at Dell Technologies World 2022, a topic that typically isn’t the focus of discussion for the worldwide market leader in servers, storage and hyperconverged infrastructure.

However, with a slew of new security launches at Dell’s flagship event—from Dell PowerProtect Cyber Recovery for Microsoft Azure to fight ransomware attacks to Dell Apex Cyber Recovery Services to simplify recovery from cyberattacks—Dell is pushing partners more than ever to sell its growing security portfolio.

“From a channel perspective, the solutions we’re putting out there in security is at the heart of everything we do,” said Rola Dagher, Dell’s worldwide channel chief in charge of driving the company’s $59 billion channel business, in an interview with CRN.

“When you’re talking about technology—be it multi-cloud, be it whatever you build as a partner and as a customer—security has to be the foundation of everything. It’s like building this huge, massive house, and then keeping the door unlocked. So you really need to ensure security is at the heart of the conversation,” said Dagher. “Security has to be the foundation of everything that [partners are] building.”

Dell’s global channel leader said its cybersecurity push was led by channel partners.

“For us, our partners have been key to providing us the feedback in terms of the solution they want to build around what we do,” she said.

Dell’s global channel partner business climbed 27 percent in fiscal year 2022 with huge revenue growth in client systems and servers. The Round Rock, Texas-based PC and infrastructure giant generated a record-breaking sales year of $101 billion, an increase of 17 percent annually.

Dell hosted its first in-person Dell Technologies World event this week for the first time since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 5,500 customers, channel partners and other IT professionals flocked to Las Vegas for Dell Technologies World 2022 to listen the company’s strategy and future from the likes of CEO Michael Dell, Vice Chairman Jeff Clarke and Co-Chief Operating Officer Chuck Whitten.

Rola Dagher talked to CRN US about Dell’s security strategy, partner training and enablement, and her message to channel partners.

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Many of Dell’s biggest new offerings announcements at Dell Technologies World have been around cybersecurity. Where are the opportunities for channel partners?

For us, our partners have been key to providing us the feedback in terms of the solution they want to build around what we do. Our job has been ensuring that we’re at the table with our product organization to build that solution for our partners.

From a channel perspective, the solutions we’re putting out there in security is at the heart of everything we do. When you’re talking about technology, be it multi-cloud, be it whatever you build as a partner and as a customer—security has to be the foundation of everything. It’s like building this huge, massive house, and then keeping the door unlocked. So you really need to ensure security is at the heart of the conversation.

Around enablement, for example, we have the Product Technology Advisory Board where we bring all of our partners to the table, and key influencers within our partner organization, to help us ensure that from a product perspective that they’re there.

So the enablement, the resources, the ensuring that we are giving them access to the training that they need, the enablement on the skill side, and making sure they’re ready to actually go out there and have what they need to deliver those security solutions that we built. That’s what I love—the fact that the

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Is Dell doubling down on pushing partners to sell more security now?

At Michael Dell’s keynote this week he started his speech with one word: trust.

You trust us with your data. You trust us with your business. You trust us with your infrastructure. You trust us with the security.

So when you’re a technology company, trust comes with every piece of innovation that we have. It’s the reason why security is extremely important for us to go out there and deliver for our partners and our customers, because it starts and ends with trust.

Is this a new security stance for Dell?

It’s actually been ongoing with everything that we build, but more than ever, the last two years has actually accelerated that. So for us it’s, ‘How do we continue to modernize that? How do we continue to have our partners actually ensure that security is a part of the conversation?’

You can’t build the best infrastructure and forget about security, right? So security has to be the foundation of everything that they’re building.

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Dell announced new public cloud partnerships with AWS and Azure, as well as a new collaboration with Snowflake. What are the new multi-cloud opportunities for partners?

Partners are extremely excited. The amount of partners that stopped me in the hallway about the announcement on Snowflake and announcements on everything that we’re doing is very positive.

But the one thing that for us is to continue to ensure that we’re actually helping them accelerate the way they want to deliver those solutions with us. So I go back to enablement solutions in adopting those in an agile way and in an secure way.

How do you enable them in terms of understanding the opportunities available?

A lot of what we’re doing is being out there and educating our partners on the offer first, and ensuring we have the right people in the room to actually educate them and make sure that they’re ready. So number one is training.

Number two is, do they have the right tools and capabilities in their organization to deliver those and their customer needs.

It goes back to that the world is changing. Customers want to know how to consume solutions and how to use it. How do you modernize it and learn how to consume the as-a-Service model and how do they do it with their businesses?

So a lot of it is going out there and ensuring we’ve got a worldwide partner tour of going to North America, APJ, EMEA, to ensure our partners are ready and what do they need from us? Then measuring the success of that.

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What does Dell’s channel training and enablement look like?

So bootcamps for partners and training certifications of ensuring going out there to provide guidance and measuring the success. ‘Are our partners certified to do that? Do they have the right skills?’

We bring in their top engineers to sit with our Dell engineers on the product side. Is it meeting the customer’s expectations? If it’s not, then what do we do? That’s the acceleration program in terms of what we’re doing around the products.

But then it comes down to also execution in the field from a sales perspective, right? We start with our sales teams because we’re doing it internally, because you have to start with your own team first to ensure that they’ve got what they need to go out there and educate our partners. So we do that in-house first. Then we go out to the partner and ensure that they understand the sales side of it.

You can’t just put it in the hands of the partners and wish them good luck—you have to be there for them and actually ensure that they have what they need.

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If I’m a Dell partner today, what are some of the biggest incentives Dell is offering to partners in terms of specific products?

For me, it’s not about selling products. It’s about selling solutions.

What we’ve launched this week will enable our partners to go out there and provide the Dell Technologies platform to deliver on the digital transformation journey that our partners and our customers are asking for.

So I would never encourage a partner, ‘Oh yeah, just go sell that product.’

What we go after is, ‘Go and solve the customers complex solutions by talking about the Dell Technologies platform.’ That’s what this week is all about. It will be amazing to see how they’re going to position solutions versus just the product.

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What does it feel like being at the first in-person Dell Technologies World in years?

The energy has been amazing. I feel the excitement. It’s so contagious.

Yesterday, I got off stage and the amount of energy I felt from all the partners lining up to tell us, ‘We feel the energy and the passion behind everything we built and you guys have been building with us for the last two years.’

So the energy in the house was off the chart. But at the same time, I can tell you that the team, our customers, and our partners feel like it was a family reunion. We just all felt it. Like, the amount of people that stopped me in the hallway, to kind of feel that reunion, is just outstanding.

Dell launched over 500 new storage software features across PowerMax, PowerStore and PowerVault. What are the new partner opportunities?

The storage features and capabilities are all exciting to our partners, because of course, everybody’s asking for new ways in improving the existing product, which they have now.

It comes back to ensuring that our partners have what it takes to be ready to go out there and talk about all these features.

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What’s your message to Dell’s channel partner community?

We believe in them. We are betting on them. We want to innovate with them. We want to continue to grow with them. We appreciate them. And most importantly, we thank them for continuing to make us the organization that want to do business.

Dell Technologies is great at innovating and building technology. But we couldn’t do it without partners. No one could do it alone. And today more than ever, we’re the proudest to go out there and deliver on those solutions with our partners because they are the foundation and our oxygen.

The ecosystem we’ve built together—and it’s not just a word, but it’s like imagining your life ecosystem—the air you breathe, the water you drink and everything. To us, they are all of that. That’s the oxygen that keeps me going as a leader and keeps us going as an organization to go from $38 billion [in channel orders] to $59 billion.

This article originally appeared at crn.com

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