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In an effort to fuel continued growth and gain customer and partner loyalty, Zetta Systems has revamped its channel program, adding numerous support tools and redoubling its efforts to support its resellers.

The IR2 (Instant Recovery Reseller) channel program now is more focused, offering more opportunity both for the reseller and for Zetta Systems Inc. itself, said Ganapathy Krishnan, president of the Seattle-based company.

This announcement marks yet another milestone in Zetta’s approach to the channel. When the company was first formed, it sold direct in an effort to create market demand. As soon as it gained enough of a foothold, the company switched to an indirect model in 2004.

This latest focus on the partners themselves—ensuring that they make money and aren’t crowded by other partners—is just a natural extension of the company’s philosophy, Krishnan said.

The new program provides resellers with a full complement of support. In addition to field and technical training, resellers receive access to Web-based sales tools; field-based, presales support; a dedicated Zetta account manager; lead generation; and exclusive deal registration.

Some resellers said they particularly appreciate the exclusive deal registration feature, which ensures that no two channel partners will compete on the same account. Not only will Zetta promise that it will not give the same lead to two resellers, but resellers who bring an opportunity to Zetta can register that opportunity, ensuring that it stays in their hands.

“It allows companies like us to maintain margins,” said Brad Wenzel, president of Storage Elements Inc. of Stillwater, Minn. “With some other programs, when push comes to shove, they usually end up bending the rules. When a larger reseller calls and wants to have the deal, we usually lose that battle because we’re a smaller company.”

Click here to read about Zetta Systems’ storage-server architecture.

A particularly important feature of the program, Krishnan said, is the training that partners receive as they sell, which outlines Zetta’s unusual approach to continuous data protection and instant recovery solutions for e-mail and database applications. This training allows them to realize revenues during the training process.

The amount of support offered to channel partners with the new program is significantly higher than in previous Zetta programs, something Krishnan said stems from a maturation of the company and its program and the addition of James Ornest, Zetta’s vice president of sales, who has had experience with developing effective channel programs.

To spend the time necessary to make each partner successful, Zetta also has chosen to limit the number of channel partners with which it works.

“In the past, we were pretty loose about our channel program, signing up channel partners and hoping they would make money,” Krishnan said. “Now we want to give them more of our time and effort—to go deep for the partner. We can do that by increasing what we offer and limiting the number of channel partners to the most qualified, best and most motivated.”

The fact that Zetta is choosy is a strength of the program, Wenzel said.

“There is a lot of integrity. They protect the reseller much more than a large distributor or catalog wholesaler would,” he said. “And there isn’t as much channel conflict as there is with other programs. They are very structured in the way they go to market.”

Depending on the type of reseller and revenue commitments made by resellers, margins range from 20 to 40 percent, Krishnan said.