Palo Alto-based Accellion has launched a new channel program for its new kiteworks solution, which the company rolled out early this year. The program is far more systematic in its approach to building a channel than Accellion’s previous channel efforts, and is designed to build a network of committed quality partners who will ultimately become the company’s dominant route to market.
While kiteworks is new, Accellion is not, as it was formed in 1999.
“The company really developed from its original technology on geographically-aware enterprise cloud storage, but when the IT bubble burst, customers said that they really wanted to be able to use the technology to transfer large files securely,” said Pat Conte, SVP and GM of Worldwide Field Operations at Accellion. “The alternative at that time was putting material on disks for transfer or using weak, insecure applications. That was the original building block.”
Conte said that several years later, customers asked for collaboration capacity, so they could invite other people into their rooms in the cloud, so Accellion built collaboration capacity on top of the security engine doing large file transfers.
“Then, several years later, 2-3 years ago, with the growth of mobility, customers wanted to be able to control tablets and smartphones from this, so we built a mobile front end,” Conte said. “Those three elements – file transfer, collaboration, and mobility – became the product that fueled our growth, and we sold mainly to medium and large enterprises.”
Accellion decided that this stack of three products was not, however, good enough to satisfy the expected demand in the future, so they redesigned it all from the ground up to provide the same functionality, but in a more effective and extensible way. The result was their kiteworks offering, which they introduced in January 2014.
“With kiteworks, we wanted to solve the issue of extensibility, because the old product lacked that,” Conte said. “It didn’t have the capability of using APIs or services to extend it easily. kiteworks allows easy integration of other technologies.”
That extensibility also made kiteworks a much more channel-friendly product than the previous offering.
“This was a perfect fit for SIs,” Conte said. “We now had a solution that lent itself to value-add, so partners could develop services and consulting businesses around it. In contrast, the old product wasn’t as channel friendly.”
Pre-kiteworks, while Accellion had quite a few partners on the books, the channel was not a major element in Accellion’s go-to-market strategy.
“Before we were opportunistic with the channel rather than strategic,” Conte said. “As a result, we had a few false starts earlier with our channel program.”
In contrast, the new kiteworks partner program has been designed with a commitment to partners that Conte said will build up a significant number of quality, committed partners who will ultimately drive Accellion’s business.
“We had between 500-600 partners when I got here six months ago, and we culled it down to a couple hundred,” Conte said. “With the program we want to develop what we would consider investment grade partners that we invest in, I want 30-60 of those soon, 90 by the end of the year, and 150 by the end of next year.”
Conte said that in building the program, pre-launch they started with a charter group of partners, and did extensive program building before they launched, to make them better partners.
Several filters when selecting partners have been put in place.
“We want to match partners to the size and class of customer, and want them geographically placed, and vertical market appropriate, since key verticals are big for us,” he said. “Do they have a services business? Do they have a mobility or a security practice, because those are two key drivers for us? And finally, the last filter, do partners see themselves as bringing new innovative technologies to their customers, as opposed to just reselling the same well-known products?”
Over time, Conte said they will have a wide landscape of partners, because kiteworks is well suited for very large enterprises, but also works well in the midmarket. In addition, to resellers, SIs, global Sis and direct marketers, they are also recruiting MSPs.
“Many resellers are becoming MSPs today as part of their business, and kiteworks is very appropriate as a managed service,” Conte said.
The program has two tiers – Authorized and High Flyer – the latter of which are Accellion’s investment grade partners. Conte said that while any Authorized Partner can become a High Flyer, the Authorized get a comparatively good set of benefits, including access to the partner portal, a complete set of knowledge transfer, management from the channel team, and the ability to register deals.
“What separates the High Flyers is their ability to identify new growth opportunities and drive business with us,” Conte said. The big difference in partner compensation isn’t in margins, but is between registered and non-registered deals. High Flyers are also eligible for non-margin promotional increases, and there are additional incentives for volume and for doing larger deals.
“A key opportunity today is that junction between the cloud and mobility, and developing that is that kiteworks is designed to do,” Conte said. “Partners are the key to this.”