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Techaisle Blog

Insightful research, flexible data, and deep analysis by a global SMB IT Market Research and Industry Analyst organization dedicated to tracking the Future of SMBs and Channels.

Defending the SMB Business in the Cloud Era

Small and midsized businesses are challenged with defending their users, applications and data against external threats. Security issues cast a long shadow over SMB IT priorities, especially as firms embrace the benefits of hybrid IT, only to find that their environments become more complex, and more difficult to manage and protect. SMBs are responding by expanding security budgets – but they lack the staff and expertise to construct effective shields around their organizations. The channel has an essential role to play in defending their clients’ SMB businesses against security threats.

The origins of the saying “it’s about the journey, not the destination” may be unclear – it’s variably ascribed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, theologian Lynn H. Hough, Canadian rapper Drake, and others – but its applicability in an IT security context is clear: there is no end point at which security is ‘done’; security requires constant updating, to stay current with expanding threat vectors.

This requirement for continuously-improved IT security is both a challenge and an opportunity for channel members. There is a need to stay current with the tactics and technologies that protect SMBs from threats – and there is a steady and profitably business to be made in meeting this challenge.

What is the opportunity?

Techaisle has pegged US SMB security spending in 2018 at $9 billion: nearly $4 billion in spend by small (1-99 employees) businesses, and more than $5 billion in spending by midmarket (100-999) firms. And the market is expanding rapidly, especially at the high end of the small business segment and within the midmarket: a large-scale Techaisle survey found that in 2018, firms with 50-99, 100-499 and 500-999 employees increased IT security spending by 6%, 7% and 8%, respectively. Channel organizations that invest in building strong security practices are able to tap into strong and growing demand for IT security solutions, and the management expertise needed to effectively deploy security products in an SMB environment.

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Techaisle Take – HPE vs Dell SMB IT solution stack

Comparing Dell and HPE offerings and ecosystems against the Techaisle SMB IT solution stack model

Techaisle’s latest report is designed to help SMB buyers and suppliers identify IT stack requirements, and to compare the offerings and ecosystems of the two current market leaders, Dell and HPE, against Techaisle’s definition of essential SMB & midmarket business technologies. The report is structured in three parts:

  • The IT stack: the report begins by outlining the technologies that SMBs require – and require integration across – in order to support current and emerging business requirements
  • Vendor comparison: an evaluation of Dell and HPE offerings, including core products, non-core products and partner-delivered capabilities, against the stack requirements
  • Evaluating stack suppliers: advice on how to use the stack comparison, and additional Techaisle research findings, to evaluate Dell and HPE strengths
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Dell Channel Partner Program – a reality check

Data speaks volumes

Techaisle’s channel survey data shows that Dell channel partners’ perception about Dell has improved by nearly 50 percent in the last 4 years. 61 percent of partners say that they trust Dell, up from 43 percent in 2014, an increase of 42 percent. Similarly, 45 percent of partners believe that Dell has cutting edge technology, an increase of 45 percent from 2014. Most interestingly, unlike in the last several years, 57 percent of partners mention that they like Dell as a partner, very similar to HPE partners liking HPE. For 93 percent of partners, Dell’s messaging on Simple, Predictable & Profitable has resonated although variations in perception remain. Dell’s messaging on digital transformation also seems to be having a positive effect on its channel partners. 65% of Dell partners are currently offering some form of digital transformation solutions and 76% have moved beyond 1st step of digital transformation, which is, digitization, the lowest ladder of the transformation journey. However, not all have reached the pinnacle of transformative solutions.

Dell Technologies channel revenue is US$43B, slightly above 50 percent of Dell revenue (had languished around 40 percent the last 3 years) which is bigger than revenues of Nike, Starbucks, Coca-Cola and would neatly fit as a Fortune 64 company. In Q1’19, Dell channel revenue grew by 14% Y/Y and distribution by 19% Y/Y.

All of the above statistics are very impressive and are a result of Dell’s wide solution portfolio range as well as a maniacal focus on streamlining channel partner’s total experience which includes simplified deal registration by accelerating deal registration response time to 4 hours for most deals and 48 hours for storage; accelerated speed to quote by providing best price faster and 80 percent within 4 hours and 95 percent within 24 hours; and finally, faster speed to pay by cutting cycle time by nearly 30 percent.

Dell listening, partners noticing

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Channel Partners landscape – four key questions

The channel industry examined by Techaisle’s 2018 SMB & midmarket channel research survey (separate studies conducted in the US and Worldwide) is very different from the community that existed a decade ago. Once a staid domain in which technologists provided IT infrastructure support to local customers, the channel is being reshaped by five key issues: cloud, and its wrenching effect on all aspects of the channel business structure; managed services efficiencies, especially vs. the pending opportunity associated with digital transformation; increasingly-complex data center technologies; integration demands that are expanding in multiple directions; and the need to sell on and deliver to business rather than technical outcomes. Let us discuss four key questions arising out of the research that is of interest to IT vendors and distributors.

Question 1. What are the top channel trends?

The channel is being reshaped by five key issues:

  1. cloud, and its wrenching effect on all aspects of the channel business structure;
  2. managed services efficiencies, especially vs. the pending opportunity associated with digital transformation;
  3. increasingly-complex data center technologies;
  4. orchestration & integration demands that are expanding in multiple directions; and
  5. the need to sell on and deliver to business rather than technical outcomes

A lot has been written about cloud so let us discuss the other four areas and the remaining three questions.

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