RealTime IT News

Dell Targets SMBs With Managed Services

SAN FRANCISCO – Dell's announced a nationwide rollout of direct managed services for small- and medium-sized business. In addition to direct support from the company, Dell-certified managed services providers and resellers can also offer the service to end customers.

Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) has been running the direct managed services in trial runs in the Dallas and the New York areas prior to the national rollout. But Tuesday, at a media event here, the company announced the services are now available in 67 major markets, covering the bulk of the U.S.

A trial is going on in London and the Europe/Middle East/Africa (EMEA) market will be the next area, followed by Asia/Pacific and Latin America, according to Raymond Rosario, global director of SMB development at Dell.

Dell noted that SMBs are far more sensitive to cost issues because if their computers are down, that might be all of their systems, at least on the back end. Whereas a large enterprise has redundant systems, SMBs don't, and time is money. Also, small shops often don't have a dedicated IT staff. It's usually someone else in the firm wearing the extra hat of "IT guy," which is a drain and a distraction on him.

Dell has multiple service offerings. It will not compete with its PartnerDirect channel program partners for the customers they have signed up, but every other SMB is a potential customer.

The SMB market has been largely overlooked, or at best, ill-served by enterprise-oriented support firms and OEMs, noted Rosario. "A lot of our competitors used the old model of complex arrangements and an army of consultants," he told InternetNews.com. "The result was the SMB market not being well-served. SMB uses tech just as well as enterprises, they are tech savvy but they are more sensitive to price pain points."

Here's the deal

The services will come through Dell's ProManage service, which will offer a trio of service plans based on the customer's needs and budget. The baseline system, offering Level 1 support, starts at $9 a month per client and features remote monitoring of networks, security alerts and 7/24/365 support.

Level 2 support adds a service desk, remote patching, quarterly and annual assessment and up to two hours of on-site support. This service can solve up to 90 percent of alerts remotely, and if they can't, a local technician is sent on site to fix it.

Level 3 support has Dell fully taking over management of the devices, with patch management, vulnerability scanning, hardware monitoring and issuing fixes. It will support SQL Server and Exchange servers.

All of these services can be done remotely, so Dell rarely has to set foot on premises. Customers can dial up or down the services as they need them, so if there is a period when they need Level 3 support, they can get it, and then dial down to Level 1 support to maintain them, said Rosario.

Don Neubauer, managing partner and CFO of the executive recruiting firm Neubauer & Associates, was part of the pilot program and present at the Dell announcement. In addition to running his company, he wore the "IT guy" hat, and spent up to 20 hours a week maintaining his firm's systems. Not any more.

"It allowed me to operate the business and focus on that," he said. "In my business, it is extremely important we are responsive to our clients. We need to respond quick. When our systems are down, we're dead in the water."