AUSTIN — German-based thin client and endpoint management software vendor IGEL, which has been a significant presence in Europe for two decades, made a major commitment to the North American market two years ago. While they had sold here before that, in 2016 they established a U.S.-office and named AppSense veteran Jed Ayres as President and CEO of IGEL North America. IGEL has sold into Canada since then, but with no Canada-based personnel, their presence has been relatively limited. Now, that has been remedied, with the opening of an office in Toronto. Ken Shipman, who is likely best known in the Canadian channel as the longtime country manager for Wyse, before its acquisition by Dell, has been named as IGEL’s country manager. Michael Berman, who was a lead sales engineer at Citrix for almost a decade, becomes IGEL’s first Canadian sales engineer. The announcement was made at IGEL’s inaugural DISRUPT end user computing forum here.
“We have been selling into Canada through U.S.-based sales reps and our U.S. sales engineer teams, and through Ingram Micro out of the U.S.,” Ayres told ChannelBuzz. “That wasn’t a viable long-term strategy. “In addition, as we started to scale out our partner community, we had partners in Canada reaching out to us.”
Accordingly, IGEL hired Shipman as a contractor in the middle of last year to do a feasibility study on setting up a Canadian operation.
“He went into it with a certain amount of skepticism, but over six months found that he was just buried by interest, from the Canadian government, partners, and enterprise customers,” Ayres said. “Dealing with this became a full-time job – and he had some other consulting contracts.”
“I wasn’t overly interested in getting back into the thin client business,” said Shipman, who has worked at workspace automation vendor RES Software and grid-based in-memory computing vendor GigaSpaces Technologies since leaving Wyse. “When I established initial contact with enterprise customers and resellers, I found overwhelming interest and support, and found that IGEL’s value proposition was accepted and absorbed by the local market here.”
Shipman said this interest was created by the nature of the VDI endpoint market in Canada. The overall North American market is dominated by two companies – Dell, due to its acquisition of Wyse, and HP. NComputing is a distant third, barely into double digits of share, followed by several other players, including IGEL, in single digits. However in Canada, Dell and HP’s dominance is much more complete, which has led to less customer choice.
“NComputing’s presence in Canada is nominal,” Shipman said. “Most organizations don’t understand how to come to Canada and if they do, they are reluctant to make the investment. The result is that HP and Dell own 95 per cent of the market in Canada.”
Shipman said that he found that IGEL brand awareness in Canada was an issue.
“Customers are surprised when they found out that we are a 20-year old company,” he indicated. For the record, while the name IGEL is pronounced as ‘Eagle’ in Germany, in North America, it is anglicized as ‘I-Jel’ here.
“When we get past that, and actually get to the table with customers, we find that we actually have a lot to talk about,” Shipman said. “Because the market is dominated by the two 800-lb gorillas, customers like our approach to innovation and our software-defined solution.”
Shipman said that while the thin client market has grown a lot since his 15 years with Wyse, in Canada the market is still quite segmented – which leaves many areas of opportunity.
“While the overall adoption rate of VDI in Canada is broad-based, we see surges in certain regions,” he indicated. For instance, it is strong in higher education in western Canada – but not in the east. Ontario and Quebec are especially strong in health care. In financials, penetration among insurance companies is big, but banks have been mediocre.”
Shipman indicated that IGEL is looking to align with partners in Canada who are committed to the value proposition of VDI.
“We have a software solution that is drastically lower in cost,” he said. “The value for partners here is the ability to shorten the sales cycle with a lower-cost, functional and reliable solution. Not every reseller out there picks up on that value proposition.”
Shipman noted that IGEL isn’t looking for a large number of partners in Canada – which is a good thing because there simply aren’t that many who have the expertise in VDI and thin clients that IGEL is looking for.
“It’s not about the number of partners, but the quality of their focus,” he said. “Lots of the high-quality solution providers in Canada don’t have a focus on this area.”
National VAR Compugen is one of the ones that does. They have been doing some work with IGEL since they came to North America, but have now been elevated to a Platinum partner, IGEL’s first in Canada.
Ingram Micro, which handles IGEL distribution in the U.S., will do so in Canada as well. The relationship in Canada actually began in the middle of last year, and was expedited by the appointment of Bill Brandel as the leader of Ingram Micro Canada when Mark Snider was promoted in 2016.
“Bill was our point of contact in the U.S., and he got a direct relationship going in Canada as well,” Ayres said. “Ingram has been investing in IGEL in Canada because they have seen the growth in the U.S, business – a 589 per cent increase on in software business done in 2017 through Ingram.”
Approximately a couple dozen partners have done business with IGEL in Canada – and bought through Ingram Micro.
“However, only a handful of those can do $500,000 to a million in business annually,” Ayres said.
Ayres thinks that now with the right team on the ground in Canada, everything is aligned for a major move by IGEL in this market.
“There is now a big initiative around digital transformation and workspaces in the Canadian government,” he said. “The Canadian government is excited to have an alternative vendor besides Dell and HP. In this business, to be successful, you have to be in the government space. You have to have a successful government purchasing vehicle, and we are actively getting onto those purchasing vehicles.
“We are a very viable alternative to the big players,” Ayres added. “We are constantly innovating, with our software-defined approach, and have strong management capabilities and a security story. We are firmly committed to the channel, and are not looking to overdistribute this. The table is set for IGEL to have the same growth in Canada we have had in the U.S.”