While building a strong SMB-focused channel to sell hyperconverged is more challenging than a channel selling to larger customers, Scale is counting on the simplicity of its solution to even the odds for its partners, who are the company’s entire sales force.
Hyperconverged solutions vendor Scale Computing has announced a new channel partnership, with Solutions4ebiz, a central Indiana solutions provider which does business broadly across North America, including Canadian customers between Nova Scotia and Alberta.
Within the hyperconverged universe, which seems to add a new player every couple of weeks, Scale has a relatively unique position. While some other hyperconverged players do sell into the SMB market with success, most of the business done to date has been at the mid-market and enterprise level. Scale is the only one whose main focus is on SMBs, with the most recent enhancement of their HC3 platform featuring things like a simplified interface and streamlined workflows designed to appeal to smaller businesses.
Finding good partners to sell hyperconverged solutions to SMBs is hard, however, said Doug Howell, Global Director of Partner Sales at Scale.
“Prior to HC3, we had 500-600 channel partners when we had a scale-out product focused on the mid-tier,” Howell said. “As we launched HC3 and pivoted to the SMB, we found that there weren’t hundreds and hundreds of partners who worked the SMB market who had the skill level to talk and sell hyperconverged solutions effectively.” Scale’s channel today is much smaller, and the partners now are focused on SMB, which Scale defines as organizations with 0-5 IT professionals.
“We have some partners who are focused higher up and occasionally have an SMB sale, but the kind of partners we have most success with are more focused on SMBs,” Howell said.
Building a strong channel – which is critical when your go-to-market model is 100 per cent through partners – can be challenging, Howell said.
“If you are selling enterprise solutions to enterprise customers, you have a big bench of people doing a repeatable implementation around the virtualization stack,” he said. “When you go to an SMB focus it’s a lot more challenging to find partners who have the breadth and depth to talk about this. What helps though is that by virtue of what HC3 is, partners who may not have had virtualization skills to sell hyperconverged before are now able to take HC3 to market, whereas they were shut out before, because they don’t have a lot of VM-certified people. The partner doesn’t have to compete with enterprise skill levels.”
Scale Computing’s HC3 platform brings storage, servers, virtualization and management together in a single, comprehensive system that makes the deployment and management of a highly available and scalable infrastructure as easy to manage as a single server.
“It’s very simple,” Howell said. “Gone are the days when to sell hyperconverged, I have to bring in a SAN specialist, and a virtualization specialist. A smart, savvy salesperson can present the whole HC3 solution to an end user without having to bring a specialist in. The complexity is inside our solution but what the customer sees is very simple and straightforward.”
That simplicity was a key factor in attracting Solutions4ebiz to Scale.
“We were in the process of configuring a highly available requirement for a non-profit SMB customer, and my partner in the company said it would be out of their budget,” said Jack Wilson, CEO of Solutions4ebiz. “I was familiar with Scale on the periphery, so we called them. When we saw the simplicity of the interface and how easy it is to manage, it sold us. We then sold the customer, because Scale’s price met their budget, and they are now in the process of buying their second cluster.”
Solutions4ebiz is in the process of developing a strategy for selling Scale broadly to their customer set.
“We plan to target the ISP space as well as the rural telecom space, which we think is a good fit for the Scale model,” Wilson said. “There are lots of these telecom providers in the U.S. If they use virtualization, the Scale model is a great fit for them.”
While some enterprise-focused solution providers are working with multiple hyperscale vendors, hedging their bets until they see how the market develops, Wilson said his company is going all-in on Scale.
“Scale is the only hyperconverged vendor we are working with today,” he said. “As a company, we tend to focus deeply on a solution so we can do a good job of representing it. Everything I have seen and heard in the industry is very complementary of Scale’s service team, and as a service-oriented company, that means a lot to us.”
Scale is doing well in the Canadian market, where they have a country manager and a sales manager.
“I lived in Toronto for eight years, and there are not that many enterprise customers in Canada,” Howell said. “We are strong in Canada because of that, because we have a purpose-built solution for SMBs, which isn’t costly or complex. Our business in Canada is growing percentage-wise faster in Canada than in the US.”