While at Interop New York 2011, The VAR Guy sat down and spoke to Larry Hart, Dell's senior director of worldwide networking marketing, about Dell's position in the networking space. In a nutshell, Hart said Dell's presence in the data center has never been more prominent, especially with its expanding data portfolio and recent acquisition of Force10. Here's The VAR Guy scoop on where Dell is headed and how the channel can go there with Dell ...

Out of the gate, Hart said Dell has an 83 percent brand awareness, which stretches out into the data center and to end users. But Dell wants more: The company has long been on the prowl for a complete networking solution to compliment the rest of its data center services (servers, storage, networking) and Force10 provides exactly that. Force10's technology allows Dell to offer top-of-rack system management, automation and virtualization with Virtual Network Services Infrastructure (VNSI), meaning Dell now very much sees itself as a one-stop, end-to-end-shop for all a company's data center needs. Put more simply, Dell now can "... help enable [data center] environments [to be] aligned with the business," through a "rack and stack"-style deployment. That translates to very little initial configuration and setup for appliance interoperability.

Hart also told our resident blogger Dell hasn't lost sight of the channel. On the contrary, Dell has a huge stack of offerings that channel partners can dig into, especially with Force10 on board. "Force10 is bringing their channel to Dell, [and] like the other acquisitions, we want to make sure we're fully invested in the channel," Hart said, adding Force10's partner program was strong, but Dell can be even more "aggressive" with Force10's technology. "Force10 has such highly manageable solutions, they've been embraced by web 2.0 providers. If web 2.0 likes you, then the data center [will like you]," Hart said.

"That's a whole new opportunity with capabilities that extent out to the smallest customer," Hart continued, detailing how Force10's bare metal provisioning opens doors for value-added services on hardware platforms in addition to network fabric buildout. In plain English, it means Dell partners are going to have a much easier time finding new places to add value, for both new and existing customers.

So how does Dell plan to merge its channel with Force10's? Dell partners will be privy to Force10's portfolio right away, Hart said, while Force10 partners may need "some certifications." "Dell is committed to the channel," Hart said. "We know that we need to convert direct business to channel-based [business] to stay a VAR-focused operation. It's fundamental to our success in the next coming years, particularly as we move upstream [in higher computing and networking]."

That sentiment serves to highlight Michael Dell's "beyond PC" position at Oracle Open World, as Dell moves further into the channel and deeper into all facets of the IT industry.