Checking Up on 2004 Channel Moves

By John Moore  |  Print this article Print


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Opinion: A look at columns from the past year reveals expanded product and channel strategies. Integration is predicted as a key theme for 2005.

The nature of a column is to hop from subject to subject.

Indeed, Walter Lippmann once compared the press to "a searchlight that moves restlessly about." With 2004 coming to a close, it's as good a time as any to re-illuminate a few of the year's Channel Insider episodes.

In June, Andre Yee, president and CEO of NFR Security, discussed his company's upcoming intrusion prevention system and plans for instant messaging security modules. Yee and other security executives called IM security a solid business opportunity for resellers.

Since then, NFR's Sentivist IPS debuted in July, and the company in October added a security package for AOL Instant Messenger. In a recent follow-up interview, Yee reported that the company's intrusion prevention products have generated "a lot of interest ... from a channel perspective."

Yee called 2004 a key year for ramping up NFR's channel; the company has been shifting to an indirect model. The results have been positive for the most part, Yee reported, but he added that the bulk of the company's channel business goes through a small set of partners.

"We realize we get more benefits and better performance from a small cadre of partners," Yee said. He said the company has no immediate plans to trim its reseller roster, but that it will be more selective in taking on new partners.

Resellers can expect some new additions to NFR's product lineup next year. Security packages for Yahoo and MSN instant messaging should emerge, with the timing dependent on the kind of feedback NFR receives on its AIM module.

From a strategic perspective, NFR will unveil a new security product architecture in the first quarter of 2005, Yee said. That baseline, dubbed the dynamic shielding architecture, will carry the company over the next two to three years.

ClearPath Networks Inc. was the focus of a July column. At the time, the company had just embarked on a channel-building effort for its newly released SNAP VPN security appliance. The company enlisted Synnex Corp. to sign up VARs.

Now, the company plans to expand its distribution channel and is talking to Ingram Micro Inc. and Tech Data Corp., according to Jim Melton, ClearPath's vice president of sales and marketing. The VAR channel will expand as well. The company expects to have 900 to 1,000 resellers on board by the end of 2005, Melton said. It currently has about 150. Synnex's BSA unit handles channel recruitment.

Resellers may offer SNAP VPN as a product or managed service. Thus far, the split among resellers is 60 percent managed service and 40 percent product purchase, Melton said. He thinks managed services will become a still larger slice, since it enables resellers to broaden their offerings.

In September, BlueRoads Corp. stated its case for a PRM (partner relationship management) system that keeps leads from falling into a black hole. BlueRoads 5 provides an Active Participation Network that the company said closes the frequently broken lead loop between a vendor and a reseller's sales rep.

Axel Schultze, president and CEO of BlueRoads, pointed to the company's Deal Registration Manager as the most recent development of note. The manager, announced last month, clears a trust barrier that has prevented some resellers from sharing information on sales opportunities, Schultze explained.

The manager keeps details of a given deal confidential until after a vendor approves the deal registration. Resellers, for obvious reasons, don't like to expose data on potential clients only to have deals rejected by a vendor.

As for next year, integration will be an important theme, Schultze said. The company foreshadowed that direction recently when it launched a BlueRoads Integration Interface for Salesforce.com, thus linking PRM and CRM (customer relationship management).

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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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