Dell expands offerings on its GSA schedule

Dell Computer Corp.'s General Services Administration schedule contract has been growing recently, and the company plans to expand its offering to federal agencies even further in the future.

Last month Dell added Tektronix Inc.'s Phaser 840, 740 and 740L lines of color and color-capable printers to its GSA schedule. The move is part of a strategy to enable federal agencies to buy all the products they want and need in one place and at one time when shopping on the Federal Supply Service schedule, said Jodi Weinbrandt, Dell Federal's senior marketing manager.

"The biggest advantage for federal customers is the ability to buy a total IT solution on one [purchase order]," she said.

This is the second group of third-party products to be added to Dell's schedule in the last few months. In March the company added several of Hewlett-Packard Co.'s printers and peripherals. Over the past year, responding to customer demand, Dell also has added Iomega Corp.'s Zip and Jaz drives and removable hard drives.

All these products come from the company's DellWare program, which offers products from other vendors on the open market, Weinbrandt said. Many federal customers will buy products from DellWare or speak with Dell sales representatives about other products they would like to buy, and Dell Federal keeps track of this information to decide where to expand.

"Once there is demand for a particular product, we will take it from DellWare and offer it on GSA," Weinbrandt said.

This schedule partnership is advantageous for Dell, because customers will turn more readily to the company that can offer them everything at once, and also for the other vendors.

Over the past year, Dell has established its dominance on the IT schedule, outselling its closest competitor by more than $200 million in fiscal 1998. Because the schedule itself has grown into a preferred source for IT products, this leadership position is key.

"Dell is a very intriguing opportunity for us because they have a very broad reach," said Chris Iburg, director of channel marketing for Tektronix. That company usually sells its printers through resellers - such as Comark Federal Systems and McBride & Associates Inc. - that are focused on segments of the federal market, he said.

Dell's position on the schedule, which has grown into a preferred source for IT products for the federal market, is a huge advantage for Tektronix, according to Iburg.

Other than high-end printers, lately the trend has been toward buying the latest and greatest technology, said Dee Reilly, the DellWare brand manager for Dell Federal. Products of recent interest include Digital Video Disc players in desktop and laptop systems, she said.

The rising demand for security products has Dell targeting that sector now. "A lot of people are looking at security right now and [at] how to satisfy that requirement," Weinbrandt said.

Following a huge demand from the Defense Department, Dell is working to add Peripheral Component Interconnect smart card readers to the schedule. Customers will be able to control access to a PC or a network by using a smart card to identify an individual, rather than just a password, and even to identify the user's system privileges.

Federal customers then can have Dell add the smart card security to their systems before shipment, and the systems will be tested as a whole by the Dell systems integration group to ensure that all the peripherals will work together properly.

For other products that are seeing a rise in demand - but are not quite up to the level of needing to be added to Dell's schedule - the company will put together what it calls an "order-ready project" - a large project, such as the DOD smart card reader order, that serves as a test for the possibility of moving those products to the schedule in the future, according to Weinbrandt.

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