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It’s only been a year since Leonard Iventosch’s surprise departure from NetApp
as head of channels there, but the channel veteran as been busy ever
since building out the reseller and solution provider channel program
of storage upstart and NetApp rival Isilon.

He’s increased the channel mix for the company, built a partner
discount model and developed partnerships with other vendors such as
Commvault, Symantec and VMware.

That relationship with VMware is the focus for Isilon during the final
week of August as the company takes a big presence at the VMworld
conference in San Francisco. Ahead of the event Isilon announced that its
Isilon IQ product family, including the IQ1920x, IQ3000x, IQ6000x,
IQ9000x and IQ12000x, has achieved VMware Ready status, meaning that
the products have passed VMware’s evaluation and testing process.

The overall Isilon message is one that’s resonated with solution
provider channel partners, particularly since Iventosch has taken over.
Alan Dumas, president of Isilon channel partner Accunet Solutions says
he is often getting twice the margins from Isilon sales that he gets
from NetApp sales since Iventosch has revamped the pricing model for
the channel.

“There’s a better margin opportunity for selling our products versus
competitors, and we call out NetApp because they are one of our biggest
competitors,” says Iventosch. Back at NetApp “I couldn’t change the
pricing and discount model. There was a torturous negotiation with the
district manager. Partner margins on NetApp products were running 15 to
20 percent a year ago. Now IDC data is showing that it’s 10 percent on
hardware there. But our partners are making on average more than double
what NetApp partners are.”

But the technology itself is what makes the biggest difference, according to Iventosch.

“If you don’t have a superior technology it doesn’t matter how good
your channel program is,” Iventosch tells Channel Insider. “The
technology is table stakes.”

Isilon technology is aimed at offering simplicity for large scale
virtualized storage environment – starting at not less than 10
terabytes. The technology makes it look like one file system on one
large volume of storage, says Sam Grocott, Isilon senior director of
product management.

It’s been an easy sale to end-customers says Dumas, who adds that his
company has seen immediate success in verticals such as media and
entertainment and any business that needs to do modeling.

“Those folks that have the issues of trying to scale out their storage
architecture know the problems and deficiencies of their current
architecture,” he says. “When we show them how this works it’s an easy
sell.”

For example, one customer initially bought for 300 terabytes from
Accunet, and has since scaled out the system to over 2 petabytes, all
supported by a single administrator.

Another customer ordered 432 terabytes and Accunet’s engineer installed
it in less than 3 hours, says Dumas, a task that would have been
charged at at least two days installation with previous technology.

And it’s a market that’s growing. IDC points out that currently only 15
percent of enterprise applications are virtualized but that by 2012
nearly 80 percent of all enterprise applications will be virtualized.
That’s an opportunity for technology such as Isilon, says Grocott. And
Isilon wants to extend that opportunity to its partnership with the
channel.

“We’ve extended this last week product lines for just the channel to
sell,” says Grocott. “We’ve created a channel exclusive bundle for
entry level installations of 24 terabytes…Almost half of our new
customers come through these bundles now, and they are channel
exclusive.”