January 25, 2001, 11:44 AM — Wanting to create a premium-level certification program for its top service-provider customers, Dell Computer Corp. on Wednesday announced its Dell Data Center Direct Certification.
The program will give certified customers preferential access to many of Dell's business and technical consulting services, including Dell's Premier pages, Service Passport, and Rapid Delivery Program, according to Mike Nabhan, brand manager for service provider programs at Round Rock, Texas-based Dell.
The Data Center Direct program will initially target "a handful of only the largest service providers and telcos [that] already have a [top-to-bottom] network in place," Nabhan said.
Michael Haines, a principal analyst at Gartner Group Inc.'s IT service group in Stamford, Conn., believes that Dell is wise to start small.
"If [Dell] tries to come out immediately with a broad-brush approach, it may be more likely to fall on its face. But by targeting specific players and testing the water to see how it's received by clients, that gives them the opportunity to make adjustments as quickly as possible and then expand," Haines said.
Dell will use a five-step assessment to validate customers for the program, Dell's Nabhan said.
The first step will determine if a customer meets the minimum requirements for certification, which are concerned with how well the customer's network is designed to meet the challenges of its business model.
Next, qualified customers are trained on the weaknesses found during their initial assessments. Dell consultants conduct on-site audits to make sure that all training and system fixes are complete. Once the customers are validated, they can participate in the actual program, which gives them information on upcoming technology upgrades, and the chance to leverage the Dell brand through advertising promotions.
Nabhan said the real value to certified customers comes from a closer relationship with Dell.
"We are into building more into the relationships with these companies," Nabhan said. "We haven't even come up with a cost structure yet -- we may fund this ourselves."