Dell’s planned acquisition of Everdream will bring the PC vendor the channel know-how it needs to implement its promised partner program, the two companies told The Channel Insider Nov. 16.

Dell officials said the Everdream acquisition complements the remote management technology it acquired when Dell bought SilverBack Technologies. Everdream’s technology will allow Dell to extend remote management from servers, storage and printers to desktops, notebooks and mobile devices, Everdream officials said. Meanwhile, Everdream will get the resources and the scale it needs to expand its customer base.

The SAAS (software as a service) provider’s technology and channel success made it a tantalizing target for Dell, said Jim Obsitnik, Everdream’s vice president of marketing. In April, Everdream switched to a 100 percent channel go-to-market strategy, he said. Everdream removed its entire direct sales team and also hired channel veteran Mike Menegay as vice president of sales, Obsitnik said.

Menegay’s channel experience includes a stint as vice president of channels and alliances at Network Associates and senior vice president of worldwide channels at Macromedia. Making the successful switch to the channel model meant Everdream had to find a different way of thinking and talking to the market, Obsitnik said. “[Dell] needs that intellectual property to move along the channel evolution curve more quickly,” he said.

Still, integrating people, partners and processes from Everdream’s existing channel program will take some work, admitted Greg Davis, Dell’s chief of North American channels. Channel consultants say the challenge is even greater when taking into account Dell’s announcement that it wants to acquire EqualLogic, which also has a separate channel program. Analysts say that partner confusion and frustration could result unless Dell consolidates all programs into one channel partner offering. But Dell is being cautious about such a bold move.

PointerClick here to find out how Dell’s channel focus made the EqualLogic buy possible.

“The opportunity to integrate what EqualLogic and Everdream are doing can enhance our channel offerings, but in some cases, that might mean separate programs,” said Davis.

Obsitnik said that Everdream has done significant outreach to nervous partners. Most partners self-brand the company’s SAAS offerings, while Everdream maintains a high degree of invisibility, he said. “A significant concern is branding,” Obsitnik said. “But the services and the products that they’re using will continue without disruption. “We tell them, ‘You can continue to operate as you do today,’” he said.

Davis says Dell wants to capitalize both on some partners’ need for vendor invisibility while also leveraging the vendor’s highly recognizable brand. As managed services offerings and the technology acquired from Silverback are integrated, Davis said, “You’ll see partners can make their own choice to sell their own brand or Dell managed services where that makes sense,” he said.

Dell and Everdream are already putting their heads together to try to ease the integration headaches that may come when the acquisition closes at the end of Dell’s fiscal year in January 2008, Davis and Obsitnik said. “Our field sales team has already been working in tandem Dell on deals,” Obsitnik said. “We have had processes in place for some time to protect partners.”

Everdream is working on implementing a newer deal registration program developed specifically to integrate smoothly with Dell’s, Obsitnik said. And Davis says Dell’s deal registration program, set to roll out in the next few weeks, will ease the transition for all parties involved. “We have to find a way to make integration smooth for the companies and smooth for customers,” he said.

Dell brings to Everdream the ability to reach into markets that the Fremont, Calif., SAAS provider couldn’t previously touch, Obsitnik said. Traditionally, Everdream focused on large players like IBM, Dell, CDW and WebEx, he said, instead of the regional SMBs (small and midsize businesses) and midmarket companies.

Dell’s acquisition will give it the resources, funding and personnel to reach out to smaller companies and grow its business through midmarket clients, he said.