Gone is the bitter battle to take Dell private. Gone is the Wall Street spotlight. Gone are corporate raider Carl Icahn and his biting tweets. Now comes the hard part: transforming what founder and CEO Michael Dell is calling “the world’s biggest startup” into an enterprise solutions channel power.

Just weeks after shareholders approved Michael Dell’s$24.9 billion leveraged buyout of the company he founded in 1984, he told solution providers attending CRN parent The Channel Company’s Best of Breed Conference that he would like to return to the event in the future and be recognized as “your best partner.”

dell_michael_dell_bob2_370That’s a pretty lofty ambition for a company that prior to 2007 had no channel program to speak of. Today, the channel represents about $15 billion, or 25 percent, of Dell’s nearly $60 billion in annual revenue. Michael Dell has said that the percentage of Dell sales going through the channel has the potential to reach as much as 60 percent of the company’s commercial sales—with no limit on just how high it could go.

But when you compare the size of the Round Rock, Texas, company’s channel business to some of its rivals, it’s clear that Dell has a lot of catching up to do. Seventy percent of Hewlett-Packard’s $110 billion in revenue comes via the channel, putting its channel business at $77 billion, more than five times the size of Dell’s channel business. Cisco Systems’ channel business, meanwhile, accounts for around $39 billion, or 80 percent of its $49 billion in sales, according to the company.

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