Top Gun 51 Profile: Veeam's Kevin Rooney on Embracing the as-a-Service Model

The IT channel has an opportunity with subscription models and hybrid cloud, says Veeam’s channel lead.

Lauren Horwitz, Senior Content Director

December 20, 2019

6 Min Read
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Kevin Rooney believes that great products drive revenue at Veeam Software, a cloud backup and recovery vendor. But the company’s IT channel strategy is its go-to-market crown jewel, said Rooney, who is vice president, Americas channel sales at Veeam. Relationship with partners is mutually beneficial, Rooney explained, where Veeam sells 100% through its channel ecosystem of distributors and resellers. Veeam’s culture of transparency is key to its channel success.

“I pride myself and my reputation on being completely transparent: Say what you mean and mean what you say,” Rooney said. He wanted to join the company because “Veam had a go-to-market strategy that completely backed that up.”


Veeam’s Kevin Rooney

Rooney also urged partners to evolve, just as vendors have had to, to the as-a-service model. “The partners that are successful are evolving with what customers are requiring: The as-a-service model. Those partners are going to survive the day.”

Rooney’s commitment to making channel relationships work is a key reasons he is a Top Gun 51 award winner. The program recognizes top channel executives who build and execute partner programs to drive partner, customer and supplier success. We sat down with Rooney to discuss his philosophy on the IT channel ecosystem.

Channel Futures: How is Veeam Software uniquely positioned?

Kevin Rooney:  Customers need a single solution they can rely on as they go from on-premises to the cloud or wherever they want their data to live, and Veeam has been seen as the one to make that happen.

So we see an opportunity to win in hybrid cloud data management, as customers look to do backup on-premises, of-premises, cloud-to-cloud, private cloud, anywhere and everywhere.

CF: Why does Veeam sell exclusively through the channel?

KR: First, our channel partners are eminently important. It’s our only route to market, and they own that trusted-adviser status. They deliver the services day to day.

When the founders started the company, they firmly believed that the people closest to the customers are our partners. Partners won’t represent a solution they aren’t confident in — it’s their reputation on the line. So they have a trusted-adviser reputation with these customers and our founders believed it would be the best way to engage customers through those relationships.

CF: What is your channel philosophy?

KR: We sell 100% through the channel, so it is our go-to-market strategy. We are committed to a two-tier channel model, where we work with distributors and resellers. That’s never wavered. Even as big as we have gotten — we have close to 400,000 customers worldwide — we have stayed with that model.

Partners also know without any doubt how we go to market. They know that if a customer is in the top 100, they can participate and sell to that customer. There is no “deck above” [of customers] to which which our partners don’t have access. They appreciate that consistency.

They know when they work with Veeam, it’s a partnership, it will never be adversarial. We will always work with them, because that is our way to the market.

CF: In addition to selling 100% through the channel, what else makes your channel approach successful?

KR: I’ve never worked in a company where every single meeting — product launch, technical — it always have an element of channel partners. We’re always asking, “How are we going to communicate this to our partners? How can we make them successful?”

If we see an opportunity with a partner, we can empower them to go out and take advantage of it. We’re north of 3,000 and I have 150 in North American channel sales.

CF: Is this trusted-adviser status more important in the era of cloud?

KR: In data availability and protection, it’s so important — you see every day in the news that …

… millions of users have been exposed because of a data breach. As we move into this new world of hybrid cloud, it’s going to become everybody’s reality. The data management challenge — and how our customers navigate it — we need to make sure our partners are on the front foot in delivering that story. The size of the partner runs the gamut. We don’t care whether they have 10 employees or 1,000, it matters whether they are committed to understanding why Veeam is the best solution for their customers.

CF: How did you get ­to this place in your channel career?

KR: I’ve been in high tech for 20-plus years. I have been an end-user rep and in different roles. My predominant experience over the past 12 years is in the channel side of the business.

I worked at HPE as it’s now known for six years. I ran the national partner team in the U.S. My family moved to Australia and I managed the South Pacific business. I came back, went to VMware and started their cloud partner team, and then I was recruited by Veeam.

What helped me make the decision to come to Veeam from a channel standpoint is that I pride myself and my reputation is being completely transparent, to be very predictable: Say what you mean and mean what you say and follow through with it.

Veam had a go-to-market strategy that completely backed that up. You didn’t have to have separate conversations with, “OK, you want to work with these types of customers? Here’s how we do it there.  And “Oh, you want to work with these customers? Oh, I’m sorry. You can’t.” Veeam had such a nice, clean strategy. You didn’t have to convince people within the company to work with partners of a certain deal size. There are a lot of companies that say, “Here’s where we want the partners to play. Some customers are direct to the vendor.”With Veeam, we need them to engage across the entire landscape.

CF: How will partners prevail in the channel?

KR: The partners that are successful are evolving with what customers are requiring: The as-a-service model. Those partners are going to survive the day. Customers aren’t making huge infrastructure purchases. They want an as-a-service model. Partners that are adapting to that model are outdistancing those that are stuck in the older way of doing things. The market forces change things; vendors could try to force change, but that will fall flat. But customers are driving change. Look at how we consume any services in our personal lives: You don’t sign up to a 10-year Netflix commitment. You want a flexibility of a month-to-month or a shorter-term engagement. Our partners are having to become flexible in how they offer.

CF: If you could give one piece of advice to partners, what would it be?

KR: Adapt to the way consumers want to consume. Be strong in services. Be strong in cloud. Be strong in as-a-service offerings. It can be painful in the beginning. The top line looks different, and it can be  a painful transition.

CF: Any other thoughts on why you have has won this award?

KR: Put your people in the best position to be successful. And be transparent and set achievable goals.

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About the Author(s)

Lauren Horwitz

Senior Content Director, Informa

Lauren Horwitz is a senior content director on Channel Futures, Channel Partners and IoT World Today.

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