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Dell brings Wang on board

The direct vendor will employ Wang's consulting and service operations to boost its server computer sales to the federal government.

As part of an effort to beef up its service and support, Dell Computer today announced it will employ Wang's consulting and service operations to boost its server computer sales to the federal government.

The partnership will essentially provide customers with a level of service comparable to what they would receive from a value-added reseller (VAR), Dell said in a statement.

According to the package, offices that purchase Dell PowerEdge 4200 or 6100 servers will receive 16 hours of Wang's Microsoft-certified consultant services for free. The consultants will primarily provide on-site aid in installing newly purchased Dell servers and assistance in the transition from older mainframe computer "legacy" systems to Microsoft's Windows NT operating system.

Consultants will also review network architecture, identify goals, install and optimize the server, and provide hands-on guidance for overall installation, the company said.

Dell has profited heavily from its "build to order" model, in which buyers order systems directly from the vendor instead of going through a reseller. But the very success of this model makes it difficult to address the needs of potential corporate customers, which often seek consulting and technical services. As a result, corporations and federal government offices have chosen competitive brands, such as Compaq, that are tied more closely to VAR services.

"They need to beef up these options to compete with value-added services," said Dorothy Rosenthal, an analyst at International Data Corporation.

Moreover, with arch rival Compaq expected to acquire Digital Equipment and its army of service technicians, Dell has adopted more of a VAR model to remain a formidable competitor in a pack also comprising IBM, and Hewlett Packard, which have been in the services market for some time.

IDC's Rosenthal believes the move puts the Round Rock, Texas, company on the same playing field as its competitors in offering the higher-end services needed to survive in the server market.

"They see a hole. They see a place where they're not competitive, and they've got to pave it over," Rosenthal added. "[Dell's partnership with Wang] fills in a hole that Compaq is filling in with Digital."

The server and service package will be introduced only in Washington, DC, Denver, San Diego, Honolulu, and Norfolk, Virginia.