Follow Friday: Five Cloud Computing Channel Experts to Track

February 4, 2011

10 Min Read
Follow Friday: Five Cloud Computing Channel Experts to Track

By samdizzy

This is emerging as one of my favorite blog entries to write each week. As loyal TalkinCloud readers know, each Friday we highlight five Cloud Channel Experts who are worth following via Twitter. You’ll also find our complete backlist compiled below. So here’s the updated Follow Friday list for the week ending February , 2011. Plus, a look at the previous folks we’ve identified.

1. David Eisner, president and CEO, Dataprise. Twitter: @dataprise

Eisner has been pushing Dataprise deep into the cloud. Indeed, the Rockville, Md., solutions provider saw its cloud revenues grow roughly 50 percent in 2010 vs. 2009, according to our Talkin’ Cloud 50 survey (which continues through March 31). More than 14,000 end-users now leverage Dataprise’s cloud services, which include hosted services from Intermedia and Microsoft, plus a range of VMware expertise.

2. Gretchen O’Hara, cloud channel chief, Microsoft. Twitter: @msuspartner

Sure, some partners are skeptical about Microsoft’s cloud strategy. But give O’Hara credit. Instead of ducking questions, she has been on the road and listening to partner feedback. She answered questions head-on during last year’s Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference and the N-able Partner Summit, an MSP gathering held in October. And we get the sense that O’Hara has been sending partner feedback up the executive ladder at Microsoft.

3. Rafael Laguna de la Vera, CEO, Open-Xchange. Twitter: @openexchange

Laguna de la Vera is disrupting the traditional Microsoft Exchange market, positioning Open-Xchange as an open source alternative to traditional email and groupware. Moreover, Open-Xchange is available for channel partners to host on their own; the company isn’t out to compete with hosting partners and VARs that move into the cloud. So far the strategy seems to be working well. Open-Xchange expects to have 40 million users in 2011.

4. Craig West, VP of Channel Sales, NetSuite. Twitter: @NetSuite

West leads one of the industry’s fastest-growing SaaS-centric channel programs. NetSuite spent most of 2010 attacking the core SAP and Microsoft legacy ERP markets. And it sounds like that strategy will continue in 2011, as West and the rest of NetSuite gear up for the SuiteWorld conference in May 2011. Wall Street was a bit disappointed with NetSuite’s profit outlook for 2011, but Talkin’ Cloud continues to hear solid reports from partners who are engaging with the SaaS company.

5. Marc Wolenik, CEO, Webfortis. Twitter: @webfortis

Marc is one of the first TalkinCloud 50 survey participants to highlight a corporate focus on Windows Azure, Microsoft’s platform as a service (PaaS) offering. Indeed, Webfortis leverages Parrot, an Azure-based social media add-on for Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The result? Cloud computing revenues more than doubled from 2009 to 2010

Who’s Next?

TalkinCloud returns each Friday with a new #FollowFriday list. To potentially qualify brief us about your cloud efforts or please complete the Talkin’ Cloud 50 survey — which tracks VARs and MSPs working in the cloud. The survey closes March 31, 2011. And results will be unveiled in Q2 2011.

In the meantime here’s a look at previous FollowFriday folks worth noting:

1. Larry Augustin, CEO, SugarCRM. Twitter ID: @sugarcrm

During a January 28 interview with me, Augustin said SugarCRM’s revenues had grown more than 50 percent in 2010. And a good portion of that revenue growth involved VARs, MSPs and cloud integrators deploying SugarCRM in the cloud. The interview and a TalkinCloud FastChat Video are here.

2. Amrita Chandra, senior director of corporate marketing, Asigra. Twitter ID: @asigra

Asigra has been in the backup game since 1986. More recently, the company has focused extensively on cloud backup and recovery software. That channel effort, with Chandra heavily involved, includes closer working relationships with VARs and MSPs that want recurring storage revenue… from the cloud. Asigra has partnered with a range of channel-centric cloud companies — including 6fusion, the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) platform provider.

3. Michael Cohn, Founder and VP of marketing Cloud Sherpas. Twitter ID: @cloudsherpas

Check out this stats: Cloud Sherpas has migrated more than 600,000 enterprise users to Google Apps, Cloud Sherpas software is used at over 8,000 companies spanning more than 1.5 million Google Apps users. Memo to Cohn: Make sure you fill out the Talkin’ Cloud 50 survey, which tracks the top VARs and managed services providers working in the cloud.

4. Jeff Connally, CEO, CMIT Solutions. Twitter ID: @cmitsolutions

Connally has helped CMIT Solutions, a network of VARs and MSPs, to build close working relationships with Mozy, RackSpace, Reflexion Networks and Zenith Infotech. The relationships helped to lift CMIT Solutions’s recurring cloud-related revenues more than 60 percent from 2009 to 2010, according to preliminary Talkin Cloud 50 survey data (the survey closes March 31, 2011).

5. David Ehrhardt, CEO, Apptix. Twitter ID: @apptix

David has built Apptix into one of the best-known providers of hosted Exchange, mobile email and unified communications services. More than 300,000 users leverage Apptix’s hosted and cloud services, up from 197,000 in 2009, according to data from our Talkin’ Cloud 50 survey (the ongoing survey closes March 31, 2011). Apptix also works closely with such companies as Mozy, Parallels and Symantec Hosted Services.

6. Christopher Furey, Managing Partner and CTO, Virtual Density. Twitter ID: @chrisfurey

Furey is just getting started on Twitter. And Virtual Density is a small but rapidly growing solutions provider in the cloud. The company is working on multiple cloud and virtualization platforms — including Amazon Simple Storage Service, Rackspace, Vembu StoreGrid, VMware and Zenith Infotech. Virtual Density is a four-person company but keep an eye on their efforts: Cloud-related revenues essentially tripled from 2009 to 2010.

7. Robert Fuller, VP of worldwide channels at Rackspace. Twitter ID: @rackspace

A cloud company with a successful channel partner program? Fuller is building that very model at Rackspace. During the Rackspace Partner Leadership Summit in October 2010, Fuller said Rackspace’s channel bookings had grown 218 percent year over year. Also, the company has about 2,000 active partners.

8. Tom Gelson, CEO, Nine Technology. Twitter ID: @ninetechnology

Gelson leads yet another example of an online backup specialist working closely with the channel. Forsythe Solutions Group Inc., a well-known integrator, has been kicking Nine Technology’s tires and seems to like the ride. And Forsythe isn’t alone. Nine Technology’s recurring cloud-related revenues went from zero in 2009 to yada, yada, yada in 2010. (A polite way of saying we’ve seen the impressive figure but can’t publish it.) More than 3,000 clients have embraced the Nine Technology platform in the past year or so, the company estimates.

9. Dan Holt, CEO, HEIT. Twitter ID: @goheit

Sure, Dan Holt and the HEIT team are best known for managed services in the financial vertical. But HEIT was one of the first companies to fill out the Talkin’ Cloud 50 Survey — which tracks the world’s top VARs and MSPs within the cloud. For 2009, roughly 2,000 end-users leveraged HEIT’s cloud services. By the end of 2010, that figure skyrocketed to 8,000 end-users, HEIT says. Some of the growth surely comes from HEIT’s merger with Simply-Webb. But the growth is nonetheless impressive.

10. George Mach, CEO Apex IT Group. Twitter ID: @apexitgroup

Here’s another small business CEO with big aspirations. Mach has positioned Apex IT Group to partner up with Asigra, Citrix Cloud Center, Ingram Micro Seismic, VMware and several other well-known cloud players. The results are promising. The 17-person company saw its annual cloud revenues grow 5X in 2010, according to data from our Talkin’ Cloud 50 survey (which concludes March 31, 2011).

11. Kevin O’Brien, Senior Director, ISV and SaaS, Oracle Corp. Twitter ID: @OraclePartners

O’Brien is quietly working to promote service provider licensing agreements to ISVs (independent software vendors). He’s also helping Oracle ISVs to leapfrog from legacy client-server applications to SaaS and cloud-centric applications. Also, watch for O’Brien to work closely with Oracle Channel Chief Judson Althoff on a new corporate ISV strategy, The VAR Guy recently reported.

12. O’Grady Milner, CEO, NetBoundary. Twitter ID: @NetBoundary

Milner leads a fast-growing managed security service provider. NetBoundary works closely with LogLogic, McAfee, nCircle, Fortinet, Imperva, Net Optics and F5 Networks. Recurring cloud revenues jumped 100 percent from 2009 to 2010, and the actual dollar figures (which TalkinCloud has viewed) look impressive.

13. Yatish Mishra, President and CEO, Stratascale. Twitter ID: @stratascale

Under Mishra, the private cloud and public cloud hosting specialist has seen its cloud revenues roughly double from 2009 to 2010. The company’s cloud customer base grew roughly 150 percent during the same timeframe, according to our Talkin’ Cloud 50 survey data.

14. Justin Moore, CEO, Axcient. Twitter ID: @justinrmoore

During dinner on January 28, Moore described why he believed Axcient will emerge as one of the top providers of data backup and business continuity solutions during the age of cloud computing. Most of the chatter involved Axcient’s R&D. But we also got sidetracked on the U.S. economy… Moore strongly endorses the Startup Visa Act — which could help the U.S. economy and upstart companies compete more effectively on a global basis.

15. George Naspo, CEO, Virtacore Systems Inc. Twitter ID: @virtacore

Talkin’ Cloud likes to keep an eye on upstart companies. Virtacore Systems certainly fits that description. The 40-person company specializes in Parallels, VMware and other virtualization strategies. Plus, Virtacore’s parent company — IKANO Communications — is a key implementation partner for Google Apps for Service Providers.

16. Julia Rivard, CEO, Twitter ID: @sheepdoginc

Rivard is one of the top executives at this Halifax, NS-based solutions provider. The company focuses on Google Apps Engine, Amazon Simple Storage Service, and custom SaaS application development. So far, those efforts are going well. Cloud-related revenues doubled from 2009 to 2010.

17. Tony Safoian, CEO, SADA Systems Inc. Twitter ID: @sadasystems

Plenty of VARs and MSPs continue to fear Google Apps, Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite and the forthcoming Microsoft Office 365. Instead of running for shelter, SADA Systems jumped directly into the cloud. The 35-person company now has about 2 million end users under contract to leverage cloud services. And while we can’t reveal company revenues, SADA’s total sales more than tripled in 2010.

18. Luanne Tierney, VP of Global Marketing, Juniper Networks. Twitter ID: @LDTierney

Tierney is a well-known marketing veteran and social media expert who left Cisco Systems in January 2011 for a similar position at Juniper, where she’ll start work on February 7. Back at Cisco, Tierney launched the annual Cisco Partner Velocity conference — which focused on marketing and social media strategies for channel partners. We’ll be watching to see if Tierney takes similar social media steps in the channel over at Juniper.

19. Ashutosh Tiwary, Co-founder, CEO and Chairman, Doyenz. Twitter ID: DoyenzInc.

Tiwary has positioned Doyenz as a cloud-based disaster recovery services specialist for the channel. And so far that positioning has paid dividends. Q4 2010 revenue grew 300 percent from Q4 2009. Also, the company’s channel partner base grew three-fold from Q3 2010 to Q4 2010. Doyenz has growing relationships with such companies as Intel, LabTech Software and StorageCraft.

20. Joseph Vaccone, President and CEO, Excel Micro Inc. Twitter ID: @ExcelMicro

Vaccone leads the largest authorized distributor of Google’s message security and compliance solutions. The 24-person company’s cloud business now spans more than 750,000 end-users, up from about 500,000 last year. And top-line recurring cloud revenues grew an impressive 33 percent in 2010 vs. 2009, according to our Talkin Cloud 50 survey data.

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