WinMagic to build Canadian channel with Interwork deal

Having built up its worldwide channel network, Mississauga, Ont.-based vendor WinMagic is now turning its attention to the home front, announcing a North American distribution deal with Toronto-based Interwork Technologies that is focused on building its channel in Canada.

The distribution deal is the first significant foray into building a channel community in Canada, said Mark Hickman, WinMagic’s senior vice president of sales.

“There’s a lot of growth, and the Canadian economy’s doing quite well, so there’s a lot of opportunity to grow the channel in Canada quite extensively,” Hickman said. “There are a lot of opportunities in healthcare, in government and in many industries, and we’d like to get key partners in each of the regions.”

Hickman said Interwork made sense as a distribution partner because of its own deep focus on security – and the fact that it, like WinMagic itself, is based in Canada makes it an event better fit.

For his part, , president and general manger at Interwork, said WinMagic “has a great product set that’s been well recognized by the industry and analysts,” and one that fits a gap in the company’s linecard for data encryption products.

“We see a tremendous opportunity for growth in encryption and that’s why we see them as a great partnership,” he said, adding that both are focused on the midmarket to enterprise space.

Hickman said the “sweet spot” for the company’s encryption products don’t easily map to customer size, but rather to an organization’s sensitivity to security. A small doctor’s office, for example, may be a better prospect than a much larger organization that doesn’t have the same regulatory requirements that everything be locked down. And while WinMagic has significant presence at the top of the Canadian enterprise market, particularly in the public sector, it’s that second tier of opportunity that the company is likely to largely target through the VAR channel.

Given the nature of its homeland – lots of land with relatively few people spread out across it – reaching Canada effectively requires a good channel, Hickman said. That said, the company’s partnering focus has a lot more to do with quality than quantity – a lesson the company has learned through the process of building (and in some cases later paring and rebuilding) a channel in other markets around the world. In fact, about a year ago, the company went through a process of reducing its channel ranks and focusing resources on more active solution providers, Hickman said.

“We revamped the program last year, focusing on lowering the number of partners and working more closely with the partners we have,” he said.

While the company is open to partnerships with solution providers of various sizes and skills, there’s one key thing Hickman wants to see: focus.

He’s looking for partners with a focus on security, and a background in encryption would be great. That said, it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense for WinMagic to work with solution providers who are “in deep” with some of the big security vendors whose portfolios include encryption – for many of them, the drive to sell across the incumbent vendor is too strong.

But for those who are the right fit, WinMagic’s partner program offers training and marketing support in exchange for partners getting their own resources (usually one technical and two sales professionals, although that may depend on partner size) trained up on the company’s wares.

“The biggest thing we learned is to focus on a few committed partners, get them trained and give them all the support we possibly can,” he said of the company’s partnering approach.

Graci called partner recruitment “the basis” of the new partnership, but echoed Hickman’s comments on quality over quantity, saying that ultimately, the distributor’s goal is to “look for a few dozen partners than can be solid and highly entrenched resellers that will develop a data encryption and security practice around WinMagic and make them a go-to product.”

“The biggest challenge we have right now is that our reseller want to buy more from us,” Graci said.

While that’s a nice problem to have, it’s a problem he’s looking to solve by bringing on new and unique product lines, like those represented by WinMagic. Graci said that’s been his number-one focus in the six-plus months since he started at Interwork, and hinted the company will be introducing other new partnerships in the near future, aimed at giving its solution providers further choices purchase from the distributor.

While the initial focus is on Canada, both because its both the vendor’s and the distributor’s home nation and because of the untapped potential it sees here, Hickman said that around the end of the year, the two will work together again to grow the company’s channel in a new market, this time looking at Interwork’s partner base in the United States.

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