Channel Insider content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

Disappointing and anticlimactic. They are the only words to describe what became a damp squib of an announcement from Dell about the launch of its new channel program.

The anticipation felt throughout the global channel was greater than a bunch of preschool children before Christmas. The waiting for almost a year, the drip feed of information, the whispering behind closed VAR doors of those who helped the former direct vendor pilot its channel program, all amounted to, well, not a great deal.

For a company based in a state where the philosophy is “When you do it, do it big,” the vendor didn’t live up to its homeland. Deal registration, partner tiers, tech support, partner logos, online VAR portal – sound familiar? Of course it does, they are the ingredients of almost every single channel program around the globe, from the smallest to the largest vendor.

This was a chance for Dell to really shake up the channel; to give some edge to a route to market that has been suffering the same problems and the same margin squeeze for countless years. The hopes of VARs everywhere were pinned to Dell launching a new-fangled program that would help them to create new revenue streams and boost their already-flagging margins. Dell could have signaled a new era for the channel, a new channel model, as it were. Instead Dell has relied on the fact that it is Dell to simply regurgitate a channel program that is already running within all of its competitors.

Sure, adding Dell to a portfolio could bring in incremental revenue to VAR. It’s always good to offer customers a choice and having Dell alongside HP, Lenovo and the rest within a solution provider will be a complete end-to-end set of products. And sure, selling Dell managed services (after paying out the bargain price of nearly $9,000 for the privilege of training) will bring in the recurring revenue stream that many VARs dream of. But in reality, rather than a golden age of opportunity, Dell has presented the channel with more of a silver lining to a no-doubt already-bulging product portfolio.

To be fair to the former direct vendor, it is hard to reinvent something that has been around for such a long time. And it is tough to look at the channel and try to think of new ways to operate within it. Not only that, but it is risky, after all. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and Dell has played it safe here. But I can’t help feeling let down. With so much anticipation it was almost bound to happen, and yet there is very little within the program that raises hopes that Dell’s channel will be that much different to its rivals. And no matter what the company says, it still has a huge direct sales force that is likely to make some partners nervous. Changing the mind-set of those salespeople and the users is likely to be one of the biggest challenges that Dell faces, and one that its rivals don’t have to contend with.

In fact the best thing about the channel program is the name: Dell PartnerDirect. Clever. At least they’ve got good marketing people down there in Texas.