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1The New Dell

Dell has been through a sea change in recent years. To maintain itself and grow, Dell has expanded to new products, services and a new go-to-market plan. How does a company make such a dramatic change? Here’s a sampling of some of the moves Dell has made in recent months and years to expand markets and offerings.

2The Return of Michael Dell

Amid SEC investigations, flagging sales and the loss of its top market share position in PC sales, Michael Dell returned as CEO of the company in January 2007 after having stepped down from the role in 2004.

3"Not a Religion"

In the months after Michael Dell’s return, top VARs say Dell stepped up channel partner recruitment efforts until one day a widely leaked memo sent from Michael Dell to employees hinted direct sales were "not a religion," opening the door to an expansion of Dell’s go-to-market strategy. Dell announced plans for a formal channel partner program in and introduced the program in December 2007.

4Retail Therapy

Dell announced its first foray into the retail market in May 2007, saying it would sell particular desktop computers through retail giant Wal-Mart. Later in the year Dell announced deals with Carrefour and Staples.

5Buying into Managed Services

Dell acquired a series of companies in 2007 – Silverback, Everdream, ASAP Software and Message One – in an effort to give it a jump start into the managed services space. Dell ran a pilot of its MSP service last year in Texas and earlier this year rolled out a controversial MSP service that it sells both directly and through channel partners. Dell says it won’t compete with its certified MSP partners.

6"Simplify IT"

This newer Dell credo was rolled out in 2007, and the idea behind it was to simplify desktop and data center environments. Dell initially talked about streaming desktops as the flagship for the credo, but also said that technologies could include unified communications and data centers. Michael Dell told reporters in October 2007 to look for the company to make acquisitions to further these goals.

7Expansion through Acquisition

Dell announced plans to acquire storage vendor EqualLogic in November 2007. The move was seen as an effort to get into the growing iSCI SAN (storage area network) market, and EqualLogic’s vibrant channel program was viewed as a boost to Dell’s nascent channel efforts.

8Expansion through Partnerships

Dell struck a partnership with VMware in 2004 with an eye to enabling storage and server virtualization and a similar deal with Citrix in 2007. Since then the companies have expanded their partnerships to build up Dell’s virtualization capabilities. This, too, is considered part of the "Simplify IT" philosophy.

9More Channel Expansion

Even when it rolled out the details of its formal channel program in December 2007, one hold out was distribution. Dell said it wouldn’t deal with distributors. But in 2009 Dell changed its tune, announcing in March that it had signed up with Ingram Micro and Tech Data to distribute certain standardized SKUs.

10More Partnerships

In April, Dell announced it would partner with Perot Systems to target the electronic medical record space, one of the areas set to receive an estimated $17 billion in economic stimulus package funding. The strategic alliance, announced in April 2009, calls for joint delivery teams to provide "fully integrated global IT solutions."

11Aiming at the Data Center

Dell and Brocade announce a partnership in September 2009 that will enable Dell to compete with Cisco’s Unified Computing initiative. Dell is one of a number of technology hardware companies to line up with Brocade in an effort to battle Cisco, including HP, IBM and NetApp.