Check in with Dell and you'll discover growing momentum for the company's channel partner program -- Dell PartnerDirect. But that's not all. After going quiet on the channel social media front, Dell is preparing a global social media channel strategy for its next fiscal year. Details are still emerging but here's what The VAR Guy knows so far.

Let's start with the partner program. During the company's recently completed Q3 2011, Dell delivered record quarterly results. Moreover, Dell said its US server unit sales in the channel jump 29 percent while channel server revenues were up 50 percent. Translation: Partners are selling more Dell servers at a higher per-unit price. "We're focused on the right products and we've got room for growth," said Paul Shaffer, worldwide channel marketing director at Dell.

Indeed, Dell controls about 40 percent or so of the overall US x86 server market. But when you look at just the channel space, Dell's market share is in the single digits, Shaffer said. That means plenty of potential upside, added Shaffer.

Eager to pursue the upside, Dell has trained more than 42,000 partner representatives on storage and servers this year. Moreover, partners seem to be working more closely with Dell. In the US, partners registered more than 12,000 deals during the most recent quarter and the approval rate for registered deals was about 73%. Also, Dell has launched a line-of-business registration process for partners, allowing solutions providers to potentially own line-of-business relationships with end customers. During the first 60 days of the program Dell pre-qualified 700 line of business registrations to over 90 partners, added Shaffer.

Still, it sounds like Dell's channel momentum mostly involves traditional product resales rather than SaaS and managed services opportunities. On the managed services front, Shaffer didn't say much about channel milestones. But he did point to the recent Boomi acquisition as a potential hybrid cloud opportunity area that partners should watch closely.

Fixing Social Media

Overall it sounds like Dell's channel momentum is growing. But how is Dell spreading the word about that channel momentum? Traditional media interviews continue... but Dell's channel social media strategy seems to have stalled in mid-2010.

Shaffer concedes that the person in charge of Dell's channel social media effort has moved to a new position so the company has had to do some reshuffling. But improvements are coming, he added. In particular, Dell expects to launch a global social media effort in fiscal 2012 (which starts in 2011). Shaffer expects multiple Dell participants across multiple regions to join the effort. The company is researching a range of variables -- such as how SMBs consume social media vs. large enterprises.

The VAR Guy will be waiting for updates -- whether they're through traditional media channels or emerging social media pipelines.

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