Dell Storage Forum Paris was a success for the Dell partners I got to speak to at the event – and it had a lot to do with getting direct access to the people at Dell who can help them build profitable businesses. This years’ event saw approximately 250 customers and 240 partners attending - up 40% from last years’ inaugural event in London.

We’ve been steadily growing our portfolio over the last three years to get to a stage where we now feel Dell has a comprehensive storage offering. One of the comments I heard regularly from partners in Paris was: “I didn’t know you guys had this capability!” – a sign that DSF is a great way for partners to find out about our end-to-end solutions and get hands-on experience with new initiatives like Fluid Data. So, what specifically did we do at DSF that made partners happy? Well, the 5% enterprise discount – equal to $10m in discounts across EMEA – was popular, as was the boost to training services. Both speak of our commitment to partners in a tough economic climate. DPACK is establishing itself as an invaluable tool for partners, and it’s now been joined by Enterprise Master, another sales tool to complement the Storage Master and Server Master tools. But perhaps the most useful thing, from the point of view of the people I spoke to, was the mix of information available. Sales of highly technical products and services can’t be split, black and white, between sales and technical staff; the border between these two areas is porous. Technical people need to be commercially savvy, and pre-sales and sales staff need to be armed with insight into the technology they’re selling – the ‘how’ as well as the ‘why’ of our storage line-up, and how it can be used in different customer negotiations. Couple that with the ability to speak to the people behind the product and ask the questions that all the documentation or presentations in the world can’t answer, and you’ve got something of real value. If anything, DSF was a chance for our partners to network with Dell’s experts (and amongst each other), put faces to names and have the sort of face-to-face conversations they don’t normally get to have.

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be thinking back on the conversations the PartnerDirect team has had here at DSF, and looking at what we can do next year –to create more opportunities for our partners.  As you’ve hopefully seen if you attended the Paris event, we are keen to talk, keen to listen, and really keen to look at what we can do to help grow your business with Dell.

In the meantime, I wanted to point to some of the press coverage of the event. Here’s a short selection of what the press thought – including George Crump of Storage Switzerland, Fernando Muñoz writing for ComputerWorld, Chris Mellor at The Register, Michael Endler of InformationWeek, Dan Robinson, v3.co.uk, Bruno Sousa, Planet Zorg and Daniel Bader writing for Computerworld.  Enjoy – and see you next year!