Former Virtual Iron Channel Exec Leads Akorri with New Program

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.

 

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