Dell EMC launches "aggressive counterattack" to reclaim storage crown

Dell EMC server rack

Dell EMC has launched what it describes as an "aggressive counterattack" in the storage space following a year of stagnating channel revenues and an eroding market lead.

The company's "Future Proof Storage Loyalty Programme" includes a new loyalty scheme that provides a three-year money back guarantee for customers purchasing storage products, as well as free software upgrades and free access to Virtustream Storage Cloud.

Alongside these new perks, Dell EMC has also launched two new SC series All-Flash storage products, the SC7020F and the SC5020F, as well as software upgrades for Dell EMC Unity designed to increase efficiency and cost savings for file workloads.

The announcement comes after a year of fierce competition in the storage channel, which has slowly chipped away at Dell EMC's market share and produced disappointing revenues. The company's storage revenue was $3.7 billion for the most recent quarter, essentially flat over last year's totals.

"Let me not be vague... we have not had a great year in terms of storage," said Sarah Shields, Dell EMC UK's VP and general manager for the channel, speaking to Channel Pro. "If you look at the IDC figures, if you look at what's been going on in the market, it's very clear that we have a challenge on our hands in terms of our prominence in the market and some of the up and coming competitors that have been able to take market share from us.

"The challenge is in mid-range storage. What we are absolutely focused on right now is going and fixing mid-range storage."

Dell EMC's performance has been truly lacklustre, as over the past year HPE has managed to nudge the company from the top spot, despite itself having lost market share to smaller storage providers. In 2016, Dell EMC had 25.9% of the storage market tied up, yet a year later this had dwindled to 18.4%, with growth down almost 27%, according to IDC figures.

However, Shields added that the company is now sinking around $4.5 billion each year into research and development and regular software upgrades and migration tools that are included with the hardware are now being offered for free to customers.

Dell's new refund scheme is also committing to a performance increase of at least 4:1 over a three year period, and if the product is unable to deliver, the customer is entitled to a full refund of their investment.

"That's something that nobody is doing," added Shields. "I don't think there's any competitor that has made a statement so bold as to reset the table stakes when it comes to mid-range storage. I make no bones about it. It's an aggressive counter-attack and we'll keep going."

Whether or not this new approach will help turn fortunes around for the company remains to be seen. However, it has clearly been alarmed by the decline and has said it will be investing heavily over the next year to reverse it.

"We've hired a new team of pre-sales engineers, we're investing in storage specialists, security specialists, workplace transformation specialists... we are recruiting like crazy right now to get really good seasoned people with excellent channel experience to go and support our partners," said Shields.

"Are we going to take our eye off storage? Absolutely not. We will maintain our storage position, and we want to get back to number one in the UK. I'm not shying from coming forward with that statement."

Dale Walker

Dale Walker is the Managing Editor of ITPro, and its sibling sites CloudPro and ChannelPro. Dale has a keen interest in IT regulations, data protection, and cyber security. He spent a number of years reporting for ITPro from numerous domestic and international events, including IBM, Red Hat, Google, and has been a regular reporter for Microsoft's various yearly showcases, including Ignite.