Dell Unveils Two New Simplified Services Offerings

Dell Unveils Two New Simplified Services Offerings

Dell Tuesday unveiled two, customizable ProSupport global services offerings that replace ten separate maintenance and support pacts.

The two offerings are ProSupport for IT, a service agreement for technical experts that includes 24/7 support and FastTrack Dispatch which speeds the dispatch of parts and technicians; and ProSupport For End Users, which includes how to software and support for Microsoft Small Business Server, Intuit QuickBooks and wireless access configuration. That offering also includes direct access to certified technicians in what Dell called its Expert Center. Pricing of the new services was not immediately available.

The ProSupport offerings are a prelude to Dell's managed services offering which is scheduled to be unveiled later this month. Dell partners are eagerly awaiting more details on Dell's plans to sell managed services directly to end users as well as through partners in the wake of its acquisition of managed service platform provider SilverBack last July.

Dell Vice President of Global Services Steve Meyer said the new ProSupport offerings mark the first time Dell has provided both partners and customers with one simplified services portfolio to cover everything from notebooks and desktops to servers and storage offerings. He said prior to ProSupport Dell had a fragmented mix of support/maintenance agreements that in some cases required 10 different individual support contracts. He said new ProSupport initiative makes the Dell basic support services "easier to understand, buy and sell."

"We think that this is really breakthrough in that it speaks to the technical needs of partners and customers in a way they have never seen before," said Meyer. He said historically technical support and break/fix have been tied to product sets rather than the technical needs or expertise of both customers and partners.

Meyer said the global services announcement is the culmination of a $200 million plus investment in new tools, infrastructure and business processes in five Global Command Centers that are chartered with delivering a consistent service experience for clients on all Dell products from notebooks to storage solutions. He said internal Dell studies show the new offerings can reduce the number of support incidents by as much 40 percent and downtime by as much as 45 percent.

Dell would not provide specific solution provider margins or commissions for reselling the Dell services. But Meyer stressed that Dell is committed to driving "street price parity" for both Dell direct and channel partners. He said that Dell's ProSupport services are aimed at allowing Dell partners to focus on higher margin consulting and services, leaving basic break/fix and maintenance support to Dell.

The new services offering includes a FastTrack dispatch that allows Dell certified partners to dispatch technicians directly to clients, said Meyer. Previously those customers would have been forced to go through basic diagnostics before a technician was dispatched on site, he said.

"Give them credit -- they are trying to make it very easy to sell Dell (NSDQ:Dell) services," said Paul Cronin, senior vice president at Atrion Networking, a Warwick, R.I.-based solution provider and MSP. "If they tie this into a Dell channel program then for me it is actually a benefit. I can go in and make money and sell their services under one brand and I don't have to worry about four different types of programs with all different levels of service. That makes it easier for me to articulate the value to the client of one comprehensive support program comprised of one set of services for one price."

What's more, Cronin said he is excited about the prospect of Dell's managed services offering. "From what I seen they have made all the right moves by leaving the existing SilverBack team in place and encouraging them to be the architects of the new Dell managed services program," said Cronin. " To me they have done the right thing. They could have not tapped into the years of industry experience that the SilverBack team brings to the table."

Tracy Butler, president of Acropolis Technology Group, a St. Louis solution provider and managed service provider, said it is too early to tell if he would be willing to partner with Dell on ProSupport services. "Anytime someone the size of Dell has a service offering that may or may not compete with me I want to keep an eye on it every closely," he said. "This sounds like an HMO for IT. If it is of mutual financial benefit and an operational benefit to my client I would be more likely to consider it."

Butler said 95 percent of his clients are under some form of managed service agreement with Acropolis. "I'm the IT department for these 90 customers," he said. "They rely on me for all their IT management and oversight. Dell has to show me a way that I can do it more profitably and more efficiently than I am currently doing it today. It has to be better for my clients and better for us. I am in the show me state. Prove it to me."

At least one partner, who did not want to be identified, said he would not even consider partnering with Dell on services without evaluating the specific services margins and channel program offerings from Dell. "Are there companies really out there willing to jump in without having those channel questions answered?" he asked. "Why let Dell skim all the leveraged services off the top and leave the rest for partners?"