Ever since Michael Dell's plans to acquire EMC were announced last October, speculation has been rife about what the new business will look like, how everything will work, and what it means for the pair's channel partners.
Until now, executives at both companies have remained tight-lipped, toeing the party line that both will operate as separate organisations until the deal is done, and only then will more information emerge.
This week's EMC World event in Las Vegas was the first time any significant information about the new company emerged.
What will the company be called?
One of the first things Michael Dell did during his EMC World keynote was unveil the new name for the combined entity – Dell Technologies. This moniker will encompass the "family" of businesses – Dell, EMC, VMware, RSA, Pivotal, SecureWorks and Virtustream – once the $67bn (£46.2bn) deal closes.
"As family names go, I am kind of attached to Dell," he joked, adding that he believes there is a "nice ring to it".
Dell's PC business will remain under the Dell brand, which won't change, while the new enterprise segment – which will be home to EMC – will be named Dell-EMC.
When it is the deal going to close?
As per the initial press release announcing the merger, Michael Dell reiterated at EMC World that the time frame for it to close is between May and October.
A number of rumours have swirled around the industry, suggesting that this time frame may not be realistic, but Dell insisted that things are progressing well, and that the remaining things on his to-do list are to obtain regulatory approval from certain countries and get approval from shareholders.
One thing EMC and Dell did commit to in terms of timing was their new channel programme, which is set to come into place by 1 February 2017 – the start of Dell's fiscal year.
What changes will there be to each company's channel?
Given both Dell and EMC's direct heritage, partners have voiced some concerns about what the duo's plans will be for their channel. This was alluded to when EMC's global channel chief Gregg Ambulos addressed partners at the Global Partner Summit at EMC World – he admitted EMC once had a fierce reputation for its direct tactics, and jokingly brought up the fact Michael Dell has written a best-selling book about selling direct.
But he insisted that now that both companies have progressed from being one-product companies, the channel is essential to them, making up 60 per cent and 40 per cent of EMC and Dell's respective global businesses.
With that in mind, a new partner programme – which EMC claims will encompass the best of both firms' existing offerings – will come into force by 1 February 2017. On top of this, incentives for cross-selling will be brought in, as well as a scrupulous deal-reg regime. Dell Technologies will have one, unified channel division, rather than each company retaining control of their individual partners.
What will happen to their partner programmes?
EMC has only just overhauled its partner programme, with its Business Partner Programme coming in in 2015 after almost two years in the making. Dell, on the other hand, has been in the channel for less than a decade with its PartnerDirect offering.
EMC said it is too early to say how the new, combined channel programme will look, but said that they are similar at the moment.
EMC's Business Partner Programme
- Annual sales threshold for Silver (lowest tier)- $1.25m
- Annual sales threshold for Gold - $8m
- Annual sales threshold for Platinum (top tier) - $45m
- Other considerations: training and number of specialities achieved
- Percentage of EMC's global business done through the channel: 60 per cent
- Annual sales threshold for Registered (lowest tier) - none
- Annual sales threshold for Preferred - $200,000
- Annual sales threshold for Premier (top tier) - $1m
- Other considerations: number of competencies achieved
- Percentage of Dell's global business done through the channel: 40 per cent
Will there be any channel conflict?
EMC has 2,200 partners in EMEA alone, and last November, Dell boasted recruiting 10,000 new partners in the region in the last year alone.
With that in mind, EMC denied that the new Dell Technologies business will have too many resellers, insisting that most of EMC's channel business goes through just 10 per cent (250) of its partners. This, EMC said, represents that there are in fact just a few committed, high-revenue EMC partners, which should not be worried about the influx of Dell partners, many of which play in the SME space.
On top of this, EMC denied that conflicts will arise in the channel with Dell itself. Earlier this year, EMC signed a resale agreement with Dell, allowing it to distribute certain products. This sparked some concerns from partners who worried that Dell might not want to share customers with the channel when the deal closes.
But this, EMC, said, won't be a problem. EMC's EMEA boss Philippe Fosse said the resale deal was agreed only to give Dell a head start selling EMC gear before the ink dries on the contract.
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