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Dell made a showing at Gartner’s IT ChannelVision this week in Phoenix, to the chagrin of some VARs in attendance.

Dell representatives present at the show said they were there to remind VARs that Dell is an option and that there is a place for the channel within Dell—Dell’s Solution Provider Direct program—but most VARs gave them the brushoff.

“I don’t trust them,” said Dwayne Mott, president of Orbex Computer Systems, of Guelph, Ontario. “How many years have they been telling end users we have no value in the market? I have had calls from Dell asking me to get involved, and my response has always been, ‘Change your commercial.’ CLICK.”

Despite the manufacturer’s continued pronouncements that the direct model is religion, the Round Rock, Texas, company has made intimations to the channel, with some VARs claiming to be receiving direct support from the company, some declaring it a better partner than their more traditional channel vendors, and analysts estimating that just shy of 20 percent of Dell’s enterprise revenue is channel-borne.

Dell already has relationships with individual VARs, through its Dell Solution Provider Direct program, launched in August 2002, to provide volume discounts, but
it claims the program is a mere source of selling products and is not a partner program.

PointerIs Michael Dell considering other routes to market? Click here to read more.

Dell is attacking the market at the appropriate time, as many VARs are abandoning their reliance on hardware sales for income, said Helen Griffin, CEO of Direct PC Sales, of Overland Park, Kan. Many customers are already buying Dell and turning to VARs for services, she said.

“There isn’t a lot to lose,” she said. “We’ve all changed our business from hardware to services anyway. I’m not afraid they’re going to steal our services business. That’s not going to happen. If I can make some money on selling their hardware, that’s fine by me.

“I would say we’re cautiously considering it,” she said. “They don’t have a lot of trust with the channel.”

But for many VARs, Dell’s opposition to the channel has left a bad taste in their mouths. Further, the plummeting price of PCs leaves no reason to consider Dell.

“Why wouldn’t they want to do business with me?” asked Kirk Nesbitt, president of ComputerLand, of Quincy, Ill., a general VAR. “But there is zero trust for me. They can’t get into a client I control, and if a customer insists on it, they can purchase it. I just can’t service the hardware, and they realize what a problem that can be.”