Channel Marker


May 3, 2016  6:49 PM

Dell adds software VP to its channel exec roster

Lynn Haber Lynn Haber Profile: Lynn Haber
Channel, Dell, Software

Pete Koliopoulos, is a well-seasoned IT executive with more than 30 years of experience in marketing, sales and channel programs who recently — March according to his LinkedIn profile — took the reins as vice president of global software channels and alliances at Dell Systems and Information Management (SIM) Group. In this new role at Dell, Koliopoulos works as a peer to Cheryl Cook, vice president of global channels and alliances at Dell since November 2013.

With the announcement of Dell’s acquisition of EMC in October 2015, the question is: how many chief cooks — yes, pun intended — and bottle washers does the vendor need? (On another interesting note, Koliopoulos has a work history that includes stints at Arrow Enterprise Computing Solutions, VCE Corp. and EMC).

Here at EMC Global Partner Summit 2016/EMC World 2016, there isn’t a partner in the house who isn’t wondering what role the channel will play in the new Dell Technologies — the name the merged company will have after the acquisition is finalized. Specificity is scarce.

So why the Koliopoulos appointment and should partners care?

According to Dell, Koliopoulos will be responsible for the strategy and execution of the Dell SIM “Channel Partner First” approach that gives partners end-to-end solutions to open the door to new business opportunities with existing customers and new customers.

He will build a worldwide partner program with the goal of going deeper with existing partners rather than seek out new partners. “I look to expand partner revenue through services and renewals as well as give partners a deeper dive look on SIM solution areas so they understand the growth opportunity,” Koliopoulos said in an emailed statement.

SIM is a recently reorganized group at Dell. Dell Software Group (DSG) was started in 2012 when the company decided to bring multiple acquisitions together in a single business. In November 2015, the vendor transformed DSG around three technology domains — Security, Information Management, and Systems Management — in an effort to change the way it designs, markets and sells products. This led them to an organization encompassing four business units: Systems and Information Management (SIM), Security Solutions, Boomi and StatSoft.

Koliopoulous reports to Tom Joyce, general manager, system and information management software. Joyce, who while in his prior role for 11 months as senior vice president of global corporate development at HP with responsibility for mergers and acquisitions, jumped ship to Dell prior to the HP split. Joyce worked at HP since 2009.

Also on Koliopoulous’ team are Jeff McCullough, Americas, Chris Miller, EMEA and Mary Woo, AJP.

When asked about the timing of Koliopoulous’ appointment and Dell’s SIM strategy just ahead of the Dell-EMC merger, the company said the following:

With the right thoughtfulness and leadership this combination of heavily seasoned professionals can continue to build a truly unique and powerful channel ecosystem. One that can drive differentiation in the market and gain significant market share from the wide array of competitors.

So back to wondering about Dell’s strategy to bring on another top channel executive. It’s public knowledge that Dell plans to sell a number of the company’s assets to both raise money for the EMC acquisition and rid itself of non-core assets, i.e. Dell IT Services, formerly Perot Systems, as well as SonicWall and Quest. Is SIM on the chopping block too? An unnamed source suggested that in all likelihood Dell intends to sell SIM.

One thing is sure going forward: In 2017, partners of Dell Technologies can expect to see a single, unified partner program, according to Gregg Ambulos, senior vice president of global channel sales at EMC. What we don’t know is when the two separate channel programs come together, who is going to run it? That’s the next shoe to drop.

It’s no wonder that channel partners of both Dell and EMC are on the edge of their seats.

April 25, 2016  10:07 PM

Focus on the “M” in SMB market

Lynn Haber Lynn Haber Profile: Lynn Haber
Channel, cloud, Managed Services, market research, SMB

At a quick glance, the flat growth prediction by Techaisle LLC for IT spending in the small and medium-size business (SMB) market in 2016 may seem to contradict the often-heard flaunting of this market segment as rich with opportunity for channel firms. B-r-e-a-t-h-e — it still is. You just have to know where to look.

In a recent blog post, Techaisle CEO and analyst Anurag Agrawal suggested that U.S. SMB IT spending in 2016 would remain flat at $188 billion compared to 2015.

Was he surprised? Yes and No. Continued »


April 11, 2016  2:26 PM

DRaaS could open SMB channel opportunities

John Moore John Moore Profile: John Moore
Business Continuity, Channel, Cloud Disaster Recovery, market research, SMBs

Disaster recovery as a service, or DRaaS, should be changing the way channel partners think about their clients’ business continuity options.

Indeed, cloud-based methods such as DRaaS have put DR within the reach of smaller customers, a development that has opened a largely untapped market for channel partners. DR was once something only larger enterprises could think about doing. The cost of duplicating in-house IT infrastructure in a DR facility was simply beyond the resources of many, if not most, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). But DRaaS has changed the economics of data protection. A business pays a monthly fee to get the job done, rather than make a sizeable upfront investment in hardware, software licenses and facilities. Continued »


April 5, 2016  4:02 PM

Five MSP marketing tactics to boost growth

John Moore John Moore Profile: John Moore
Content marketing, digital marketing, Email marketing, Managed Services, Marketing, MSP, social media

Scott Lindars, a former Citrix senior alliance marketing manager and now director of technology markets at Merit Mile, an interactive agency in Boca Raton, Fla., outlined MSP marketing tactics at the MSPWorld conference this week in Orlando.

Here are his top five tips:

Optimize your website for mobile devices

Lindars emphasized the date April 21, 2015. That’s when Google Search ramped up the importance of mobile-friendly websites in its page-ranking formula. By October of last year, more than half of Google searches were conducted from mobile devices. Lindars implored MSPs to optimize for mobile if they hadn’t already, noting the availability of tools and web specialist companies that can help update websites.

“There’s no excuse for having an outdated website,” he said.

Deliver only the essential content

Lindars said an MSP’s “why” — messaging that tells prospective customers why the company is different — must be front and center on its website. He advised MSPs to audit their web presence, trim and focus. For example, if an MSP offers 50 services but only 10 are critical, it should focus on those 10 services rather than describe the entire portfolio. Good content is still king, he added, noting MSPs should aim to emphasize quality over quantity. Examples of possible content include whitepapers, surveys and reports, thought leadership pieces, trends and predictions, emotional customer stories, how-to articles, infographics, and top-10 lists.

Offer video

“Video is a must-have,” Lindars said, noting that business executives watch work-related videos at least weekly. He described three types of videos that companies should include in their MSP marketing approach:

  • How it helps — Such videos describe how the MSP solves a particular problem, trend or demand in the marketplace.
  • Lifestyle solutions — These videos show how the MSP’s services help customers in the real world.
  • How it works — In this type of video, the MSP sets forth the technical basics of how its offering works.

Lindars suggested MSPs keep videos short, noting the top-performing Facebook videos are less than two minutes long. He also recommended using strong, compelling visuals.

Use social media to drive sales leads

Lindars pointed to research that suggests MSPs using social media can increase revenue, reduce marketing costs and close more leads. But Lindars cautioned companies to refrain from targeting every social media platform with an MSP marketing campaign. He said the social media landscape continues to evolve, advising MSPs to stick with the outlets their buyers are most likely to use. And social media messages should be designed to elicit audience action.

“Get them to bite,” he said.

Do email the right way

Nurturing leads via email works, according to Lindars, but getting sales-ready leads via email requires MSPs to have a strategy. The emails dispatched in a given campaign should work together and offer a consistent look and feel. The email list should be up to date and segmented (targeted toward a particular IT customer audience). The email copy should be clean, simple and focused, Lindars said.


April 4, 2016  10:22 PM

Brocade/Ruckus buyout: No impact on partners for now

Lynn Haber Lynn Haber Profile: Lynn Haber
Brocade, Mergers & Acquisitions, Ruckus Wireless, Wi-Fi, Wireless

Today’s news that Brocade Communications Systems Inc. has made a $1.2 billion bid for Ruckus Wireless will impact channel partners of both companies, but don’t expect details until the deal closes sometime in Brocade’s third fiscal quarter of 2016.

This latest acquisition for Brocade will add Wi-Fi infrastructure products to the company’s portfolio.

“From our perspective, the [Brocade and Ruckus] technologies compliment each other. They don’t overlap,” said Pete Peterson, vice president of global channel sales at Brocade. “We have a strong channel ecosystem, as does Ruckus, and not a lot of overlap in the channel, so we think there’s an opportunity for our existing partners to sell more Ruckus solutions and for Ruckus partners to sell more Brocade solutions. And more importantly, the combined partner ecosystem will have the ability to fulfill the new digital networking capability that nobody in our particular network space has on their line card today.”

For now, partners should expect business as usual, according to the Brocade channel chief. When the acquisition is completed, partners will be able to sell from the data center to the wireless network edge.

While some Brocade partners may have been delivering this network capability by combining multiple vendors’ products (including Ruckus technology), channel partners can soon deliver it through a single vendor brand.

“We’ve been partnering with other vendors, including Ruckus, for quite some time, and it has worked out well for us. Even after the acquisition, we’ll continue to build on our open standards-based portfolio and continue to work with other networking vendors,” Peterson said.

The Ruckus Wireless acquisition won’t be Brocade’s first time combining vendor channel organizations, which has been part and parcel of acquisitions it has made over the years. In 2015, Brocade acquired the Steel App business unit from Riverbed Technology, as well as Evolved Packet Core specialist Connectem. The previous year, Brocade purchased Vistapointe, and, in 2012, acquired Vyatta. Back in 2008, Brocade acquired Foundry Networks.

Ruckus Wireless will operate as a wholly owned wireless network business unit led by Ruckus CEO Selina Lo, who will report to Brocade CEO Lloyd Carney.


March 23, 2016  12:41 AM

Verizon Enterprise appoints new channel exec

Lynn Haber Lynn Haber Profile: Lynn Haber
Channel, Partner programs, Verizon

Verizon today announced the appointment of Janet Schijns as vice president of global channels for Verizon Enterprise Solutions. Schijns, who has worked for Verizon since November 2010, replaces Adam Famularo who is leaving the company on April 1. Famularo held his channel post since September 2014.

In her new position, Schijns is responsible for overseeing Verizon’s indirect enterprise distribution channels, i.e. partners, value-added resellers and systems integrators, in the U.S., EMEA and Asia-Pacific. Continued »


March 17, 2016  1:01 PM

Cisco wants channel partners to Engage with digital marketing

Lynn Haber Lynn Haber Profile: Lynn Haber
Channel, Cisco, digital marketing, Marketing

For several years now, former Gartner vice president and distinguished analyst Tiffani Bova cautioned that customers, not technology, are the most disruptive aspect of business today. More than a year ago, in an interview with SearchITChannel, Bova said, “No longer are technology providers in control of the buyer’s journey, which means neither is the indirect channel.” This shifts the way in which the channel sells, communicates and engages, with the customer becoming the new “competitive battleground,” she added.

With the recently announced Cisco Engage digital marketing services, Cisco is striving to get partners to become digital marketing warriors, with the goal of realizing increased revenue. Continued »


March 15, 2016  8:48 PM

Cloud infrastructure security: A mixed message

John Moore John Moore Profile: John Moore
Channel, cloud, Cloud Security, market research

Here’s a mixed message for channel partners: IT managers view security as a cloud advantage, but they still have some reservations when it comes to moving data off premises to a cloud infrastructure.

That’s a key takeaway of a recent study from Clutch, a business-to-business market researcher based in Washington, D.C. Part one of the study, published in February, cited security as the primary benefit of cloud infrastructure, based on a survey of 300 IT professionals. The results overturn earlier thinking on cloud computing; security concerns ranked among the top cloud adoption obstacles a decade ago.

Part two of that study, released in March, sheds more light on the cloud security angle. According to Clutch, 64% of enterprises “consider cloud infrastructure a more secure alternative to legacy systems.”

Other market researchers have also noted a general shift in cloud perception. Continued »


March 8, 2016  6:25 PM

Rumor had it right: Tiffani Bova joins Salesforce

Lynn Haber Lynn Haber Profile: Lynn Haber
Channel, Gartner, Salesforce.com

Rumor, hearsay, buzz, call it what you will, the truth of the matter is that this time rumor had it right with the official news that Tiffani Bova, vice president, distinguished analyst and research fellow at Gartner Group, has moved on. Bova is now global, sales and innovation evangelist with Salesforce.

Bova was a leading voice for sales strategy, channel program development and go-to-market strategies during her tenure at Gartner, since January 2006. Channel partners frequently heard her speak at top vendor partner conferences as well as CompTIA’s ChannelCon event. She also had a blog on the Gartner Blog Network and partners could watch videos of her presentations online. Bova was also an oft quoted analyst in many SearchITChannel articles. Continued »


March 8, 2016  3:14 PM

Marketing on the cheap: Pointers for channel partners

Lynn Haber Lynn Haber Profile: Lynn Haber
Channel, Channel partners, Cisco, Customer service, Marketing

Cisco’s Marketing Velocity event, held last week in conjunction with Cisco Partner Summit in San Diego, racked up its ninth year of effort to help channel partners on their marketing journey — no small nut to crack. One attractive session for attendees, Grow Your Business without Spending a Dime, was presented by Joseph Jaffe, a popular marketing consultant and author.

The presenter’s message: Too many people are interested in chasing the next big shiny thing — the next marketing fad — and, he contended, there isn’t one. The next best thing is now.

“How about we recognize that we all suck at email, customer service, search and our websites. Why aren’t we all taking care of the basics?” he asked. Continued »


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