Former Virtual Iron Channel Exec Leads Akorri with New ProgramBy Carolyn April | Print
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Bill Simpson is spearheading Akorri’s shift from a predominantly direct seller of virtual infrastructure management software to what he describes as a value-based channel company.
Bill Simpson hasn’t wasted time this summer.
In May, Simpson joined Littleton, Mass.-based Akorri as vice president of worldwide sales, just a few weeks after Oracle acquired Simpson’s then-employer Virtual Iron. A month or so later, Oracle cut loose Virtual Iron’s sales and marketing staff and extinguished reseller agreements to sell new Virtual Iron licenses, clearly having done the deal to obtain technology assets exclusively.
But by then Simpson was on a new path. This summer, he spearheaded Akorri’s shift from a predominantly direct seller of virtual infrastructure management software to what he describes as a value-based channel company. He’s rolled out a new partner program, replete with some perks not found in many partner programs today, and is looking to enable partners to cash in on what he believes is the next wave of virtualization in the market.
"VARs led the way by going out and making ton of money over the initial virtualization sales, but now the next wave is how do I virtualize more of the data center and how do I manage that," Simpson told Channel Insider. "One of the major changes made since I’ve come on board is to decide we are 100 percent a channel company. It’s more than fulfillment, but the channel as a strategy. We are not passing paper through partners."
Akorri’s flagship product BalancePoint complements individually focused virtualization management tools by the major players like IBM, HP or EMC by providing one integrated management console monitoring all of those tools results and metrics, Simpson said. BalancePoint provides analytics that result in reports for troubleshooting and optimization across multiple vendor virtualization environments.
The new partner program Simpson is helping to launch sports two tiers: Basic members and Premier partners. By design, the program is heavy on commitment and heavy on reward. Premier partners are required to attain a certain quantity of technical and sales certifications within their organizations, must devise a business plan with Akorri and participate in joint marketing activities.
"At the end of the day, the idea is to make the ability to meet these requirements not heavy-lifting for our partners, but with good will on both sides," Simpson said.
Investment has its perks. The newly crafted program features a lead registration program that gives 30 percent margins to resellers who find and close deals. If another partner also bids and wins the deal out from under the originator, they get 10 percent margins. The partner who registered the lead -- but lost it -- still gets 20 points.
"We don’t want one of our VARs to put in a big sales effort only to lose the deal to another partner because they are undercut in procurement," Simpson said. "
Simpson wants to position BalancePoint as a professional services springboard for partners as well. As part of its partner program, the company has included a couple of tools for premier partners that incent them to do customer infrastructure assessments. The partner is charged a nominal assessment charge for the software license, but they can then charge the customer what they like for the assessment and subsequent reports and consulting. The assessment software is left behind as an entrenchment mechanism to upsell additional Akorri products and services, Simpson said.
There is also a capacity management tool available to partners to help them forecast ahead what their customers will need in terms of storage and other infrastructure, which can increase the partners' services margins. Additionally, Akorri will offer larger discounts to partners that bundle multiple products together in a sale.
The company is looking to engage a strategic number of partners in five territories across North America, a combination of traditional solution providers whose expertise is balanced across the major virtualization vendors in the market and a few strategic DMRs. Each new partner will undergo a prescribed 90-day ramp-up that will include milestones such as first deal closed, first joint seminar, etc., Simpson said.
"We want to promote and reward those that invest," he said.