Dell and EqualLogic Two Years Later

By Steve Wexler  |  Print this article Print

On the eve of its second anniversary as part of Dell, EqualLogic has a lot to celebrate, with growing market share and solid sales numbers. And the lion's share of the credit goes to the storage business’s channel partners.

Despite its off-and-on-again relationship with the channel, it wasn't until two years ago that Dell got its first real channel business when it bought EqualLogic, acquiring an iSCSI storage line and a channel-only business model. Celebrating its second anniversary with the company that's slowly branching out from its direct roots, the EqualLogic business unit has recorded a strong track record of success and is very optimistic about the future.

"We continue to grow revenue faster than the overall market," says Travis Vigil, worldwide manager for Dell EqualLogic, and the future looks bright. "We're seeing a lot of signs that this growth and momentum in the market will continue."

Indeed, Dell leads the iSCSI market with more than 33 percent revenue share in a market that grew more than 24 percent year-over-year, according to a new study released this week by Forrester Research. Even more impressive, EqualLogic product revenue increased 31 percent year over year.

Since the acquisition, the group has added almost 12,000 new customers and more than 240 partners. EqualLogic's channel was an important part of the deal, Vigil says.
"One of the key driving factors for the acquisition was the strong channel focus," he tells Channel Insider. EqualLogic’s channel program has served as a template for other channel programs Dell has created, "to have a better, more collaborative relationship with the channel overall."

Vigil says there are three key trends driving the growth: the success of iSCSI and 10Gb/E technologies, and the desire for unified data.

"iSCSI is ready for prime-time storage," Vigil says. Industry analysts predicted the market would grow 46 percent in 2009, according to Vigil, and instead it came in at a very healthy 88 percent. It currently represents approximately 20 percent of the overall storage market, and it's doing really well in server virtualization applications, he adds. There is room for both iSCSI and Fibre Channel, but for the short term, Dell sees iSCSI being preferred.

EqualLogic announced the move to 10 Gigabit Ethernet last month in an effort to help customers who are looking to drive down costs, says Vigil. The 10GbE market is growing at 40 percent quarter over quarter, almost three times the rate of FC host bus adapters. And 10GbE is only going to make iSCSI better, and Ethernet will be the basis for a Unified Fabric, he adds.  

Formerly the channel chief at EqualLogic, Bob Skelley is now global director of Dell's Enterprise Architecture Channel. At the time of the acquisition, he brought 320 partners with him to Dell. By the end of the year, there will be more than 650 partners in North America and over 1,000 globally.

A focus on quality, not quantity, was key to growing the channel, according to Skelley.

"First we had to establish a very strong training and enablement program within Dell," he says.

Outside of recruiting, the company spent "a ton" of money on training. Today the company offers e-training, face-to-face instruction, three-day boot camps, Webinars and customized training, and it's all free.

"It led to just incredible traction and uptake," he adds. Last year the company trained over 165,000 people, including repeats for different courses. "That's been a very big win for us, and a very big investment."

Skelley is also a big believer in channel incentives that range from point reward programs to new account incentives. Demand generation has also been critical. Dell has done more than 1,000 weekly partner sessions over the last year, generating over 41,000 leads, up 23 percent year over year.

It's also critical to listen to partners and ensure they are in sync, he says.

"We're always looking for more and different ways to engage the channel and grow with Dell," he says. "We're always piloting and looking at new programs we can bring to the channel."


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