All-Flash Storage Vendor Violin Systems Moves to 100% Channel Sales
After acquiring flash and hybrid storage vendor X-IO Storage last November, flash storage vendor Violin Systems has launched a new channel program that will run most of the company’s business through the channel.
The new “Partner First” channel program was unveiled recently with three tiers of membership for partners based on sales volumes, while providing access to online training and certification materials, updated prices lists, deal registration forms and sales materials through a dedicated channel partner portal. Violin Systems provides Tier 1 and Tier 2 block and SAN storage for customers.
“Violin in the past did not have a true channel program” and did most of its prior business directly with customers, Tim Cullen, the company’s recently appointed vice president of worldwide channel sales, told Channel Futures. The Violin acquisition of X-IO Storage in November 2018 helped lead to a new approach because that company did about 50% of its business through the channel, he added.
“We have been making the transition to 100% channel now” at Violin, he said. “Any new deals coming in are all 100% channel-focused. We won’ take them directly.”
Most legacy customers are being moved into the channel program, but a few 20-year legacy customers will remain in direct sales relationships with Violin, he said.
So far, the company has about 35 channel partners in its new channel program but that number will expand in the future.
“Our goal is not to sign up 400 resellers worldwide,” said Cullen. “We would much rather have high quality, very interactive partners where we can do events and lead generation together. We really want to make this more non-competitive from a partner point of view so we don’t have 20 partners going after one deal.”
The new channel partner program includes guaranteed margins for completed sales, professional services being delivered by partners for recurring sales, augmentation of existing partner storage portfolios with Violin’s products for wider product offerings, and increased marketing opportunities through pre-funded marketing program incentives and joint event participation available for Premier-level partners. Additional lead-generation activities are tailored to individual partners at all levels, according to Violin.
The marketing development funds offered to partners can be used for special event sponsorships, including golf tournaments, partner open houses and many types of other events from small to large, said Cullen.
“We want to co-market with these guys and we have co-marketing funds to do that. These are earmarked, these are ready to go and we are already rolling them out.”
For lead generation assistance, Violin employees will work with partners using the company’s inside lead-gen team to provide training and conduct joint sales calls, then continue to work with them, if they choose, for higher levels of training and understanding of the products, said Cullen.
“We have a number of monetary incentives out there, such as if a partner registers a deal and brings a Violin representative with them we will pay them $250 for the meeting,” he said.
Jeff Podgorski, director of sales strategy and operations for channel partner KeeperTech, said that Violin offers products and capabilities that are not offered by the company’s other general-purpose storage and flash offerings. That has opened up market opportunities that KeeperTech would not have otherwise had, said Podgorski.
“For those workloads that need maximum application performance, Violin is able to step up and provide us with a solution that delivers consistent performance and low latency with enterprise-class data services” for customers, he said. “For other storage needs, I’m still able to offer other solutions in my sales catalog, giving me the opportunity to increase sales while keeping my customers satisfied.”