Sonian: Cloud Archiving Specialist Seeks Channel Partners
Sonian, which provides cloud-based archiving, plans to boost its channel business in light of a newly secured round of funding.
The company this week announced $9 million in Series B funding from investors including Amazon.com, Webroot, Summerhill Venture Partners and Prism VentureWorks. Sonian hosts its archiving platform, which encompasses e-mail, instant messaging, and social media, on Amazon’s cloud. The funding will fuel research and development, but also help grow the company’s partner ecosystem.
Jeff Dickerson, Sonian’s chief executive officer, described Sonian as a “channel-based company,” adding that the funding round will accelerate its go-to-market approach.
Dickerson segments Sonian’s channel allies into tiers. At the top, the company is building relations with what Dickerson termed “household name” OEMs. He said he expects those contracts to ramp up in terms of revenue production over the next four to six months. Next up are companies such as Rackspace and Webroot. Those tiers will generate 80 percent of the company’s channel revenue in a year’s time, Dickerson predicted.
Channel partners in the $20 million to $150 million range make up the third tier. At present, Sonian has about 25 VARs in that category. Those resellers typically target SMBs and have built business around desktop solutions such as single sign on and spam filtering.
Sonian takes some of its sales direct, as the company seeks unfiltered feedback on its products, Dickerson explained. He added that direct sales account for a single-digit slice of the company’s overall revenue.
Dickerson said customers are buying his company’s archiving service for economic reasons — its cheaper to place that activity in the cloud than to run an on-premise solution. Regulatory compliance and risk mitigation concerns also generate sales. Sonian positions its technology in the e-discovery and compliance arenas. In one case, a Sonian sale didn’t stem from the IT department; a company’s general counsel pushed for the cloud offering, Dickerson noted.
That’s somewhat ironic given that security concerns were initially a key customer objection to cloud-based solutions.
“It is quickly being viewed as a safe choice,” Dickerson said of the cloud.
That change in philosophy could benefit a cloud niche that has developed around archival solutions. Companies such as Dexrex Gear offer cloud solutions for social media and other content archiving, for example.