A Channel Program Built From Scratch

By John Moore  |  Print this article Print


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Opinion: The channel efforts of storage vendor BlueArc aim to attract resellers' attention by letting them retain a substantial margin.

Peter Mainguy recently found himself with a clean-slate opportunity that channel mavens dream about: the chance to build a channel program from the ground up.

Mainguy earlier this year joined storage vendor BlueArc Corp. and soon had the task of crafting that company's channel strategy.

Mainguy, BlueArc's director of worldwide channels, describes the process as considering elements of channel initiatives that work, learning from elements that don't, and distilling the subsequent analysis into "a meaningful program for resellers."

The result: a channel program that aims to court reseller allies in the upstart storage vendor's battle with NAS (network-attached storage) rivals. Among those are Network Appliance Inc. and EMC Corp.'s Celerra product line. BlueArc, thus far, has signed more than 25 resellers in North America and Europe.

In building the channel program, some requirements were easy to identify. "The first question out of the mouth of any savvy reseller is, 'Is it compensation neutral?'" Mainguy said. Accordingly, BlueArc's channel culture does not penalize the company's sales reps for involving reseller partners.

Indeed, the top three BlueArc sales reps in the country also do the highest percentage of channel business, according to Mainguy. He said the reps are a great example for the rest of the company. The message: "If you want to be successful, you need to leverage the channel," Mainguy said.

BlueArc's channel outreach is indeed an important draw, but so is the product. In that regard, Mainguy believes BlueArc offers "a highly differentiated product" that resellers can build into an effective customer solution.

BlueArc's Titan network storage system manages up to 256 T of data in a single storage pool and provides throughput of up to 20 gigabits per second, according to the company. In addition, individual systems can be configured to house both Fibre Channel and Serial ATA disks.

BlueArc "lets you do a lot of things that competitors can't," said Alan Dumas, president of Accunet Solutions Inc. He said the product helped the Boston-based company break into the storage market from its origins in network infrastructure and security.

Dumas said he's found a role for BlueArc in a couple of vertical niches. "We go after higher education and life sciences," he explained.

In addition to university high-performance computing settings and biotech, BlueArc has also seen activity in the entertainment market with rendering and post-production houses, Mainguy said. Internet services firms also are BlueArc customers, he added.

But with Titan, the company's third-generation product, BlueArc also has encountered demand from less specialized shops. Mainguy said IT departments now are testing Titan for general storage.

Whether for general or specialized storage applications, the BlueArc channel plan works the same way. A reseller goes to BlueArc's Web site to register an opportunity. The lead then goes to a BlueArc sales rep.

If the rep accepts that opportunity, which Mainguy says is nearly always the case, the reseller is afforded access to BlueArc's sales and technical resources. BlueArc's sales reps and engineers work with the reseller to win the deal. The registration system, Mainguy said, lets resellers retain substantial margin.

And that's another program feature calculated to attract reseller attention.

Check out eWEEK.com's for the latest news, reviews and analysis on enterprise and small business storage hardware and software.

John writes the Contract Watch column and his own column for the Channel Insider.

John has covered the information-technology industry for 15 years, focusing on government issues, systems integrators, resellers and channel activities. Prior to working with Channel Insider, he was an editor at Smart Partner, and a department editor at Federal Computer Week, a newspaper covering federal information technology. At Federal Computer Week, John covered federal contractors and compiled the publication's annual ranking of the market's top 25 integrators. John also was a senior editor in the Washington, D.C., bureau of Computer Systems News.


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