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Top Gun 51 Profile: CloudCheckr’s Elissa Livingston Talks Cloud Management, Channel Strategy

In this edited Channel Futures talks with Livingston about the ways she has enhanced the CloudCheckr channel.

Kelly Teal

September 6, 2019

6 Min Read
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Managing public clouds, especially from multiple providers, proves no easy task. As cloud adoption has grown, more vendors saw this challenge coming. They developed platforms to display information on spending, data security and protection, usage, outages, inventory and more, often in real time.

In fact, various research firms project the multicloud cloud management sector will turn into a booming market over the next four years. That comes as no surprise, given that end users are putting more workloads into different cloud brands (think Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure and others). Enterprises no longer want to entrust all their data to one repository.

For channel partners including managed service providers, and resellers and distributors, managing cloud on behalf of customers is indispensable. And demand will only grow. That’s one reason why channel-friendly cloud management vendors are crucial to partner success.

CloudCheckr ranks among the companies specializing in multicloud cloud management with a targeted focus on partners. Much of the credit for that focus goes to Elissa Livingston, vice president of strategic alliances. Livingston’s dedication to the channel and the opportunities made possible by the cloud earned her a place as one of this year’s Top Gun 51 recipients. Livingston has worked for CloudCheckr for almost four years, and been instrumental in helping the channel contribute half of CloudCheckr’s business.

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Cloudcheckr’s Elissa Livingston

In this edited Q&A, Channel Futures talks with Livingston about the ways she has enhanced the CloudCheckr channel, what’s different about the way the company engages with partners and what’s next.

Channel Futures: How long have you worked in the channel, in general?

Elissa Livingston: Seven years — first at an e-discovery managed services provider and now three-and-a-half years with CloudCheckr.

CF: How did you become involved in the channel?

EL: The CloudCheckr platform is built for cloud resellers, distributors and managed service providers, so the channel was an inherent focus of mine from the beginning. We built out a formal channel offering around the broadest and deepest cloud management platform to allow our partners to generate the most margin, engage their customers and deliver secure, well-managed cloud environments.

CF: Did you join CloudCheckr in that role or move into it?

EL: I’ve held several roles throughout my tenure with CloudCheckr – all related to channel development in some form. Eighteen months ago, when our customer-facing organization was experiencing rapid expansion, we began to specialize functions to prepare for our next growth stage.

As a result, I took on the task of formally defining and building out our strategic alliances organization. Now, I’m leading go-to-market strategy and initiatives with our most complex and important channel partners – including cloud IaaS providers, technology integration partners, and cloud resellers and service providers.

CF: What changes have you made during your time as CloudCheckr’s channel chief?

EL: I was part of the early team at CloudCheckr so in many ways got to shape our program from the ground up. CloudCheckr’s product development has always been heavily influenced by our channel partners’ needs. My work on the business side is done in parallel, leveraging the needs of our partners and their customers to form a tailor-made program for …

… the partner community.

In the last year alone, we:

  • Added to our channel program by deploying a Partner Center full of sales enablement content, training and education, mindshare and access to the latest cloud management content.

  • Implemented a transformation and growth program for IT service providers entering the cloud market.

  • Made systemic improvements across our sales and customer support organizations to better serve end customers through our partners.

Simply put, my most important changes ensure that our partners have the best product, tools and support to be as successful as possible.

CF: What innovations have you brought to the CloudCheckr channel program?

EL: There is incredible value in creating – and enabling the channel to leverage – a rich and diverse ecosystem of complementary partner solutions. With my more deliberate focus on expanding and mapping our network, we’re now able to regularly identify opportunities and facilitate connections among our partners that lead to rewarding outcomes for the collective.

Our sales and support teams are eager to leverage one partner’s solution in aid of another’s objective — and they do so now at scale. Some of our key innovations include ways for partners to leverage our platform to generate margin, better engage with their customers and provide an unmatched level of confidence in undertaking cloud transformation projects.

CF: How does CloudCheckr engage partners differently compared to competitors?

EL: Nothing CloudCheckr does is superficial; this is especially true of our commitment to enabling the channel. From the technology underlying our platform, to our channel-first sales and customer service strategy, we reinforce our partner-first message with substance.

CloudCheckr’s mission is helping partners develop and scale profitable cloud practices — and we do this via two distinct, but related, paths.

First, by enabling partners with completely customizable options for granting their customers the visibility and insights needed to feel comfortable accelerating cloud adoption. And second, by giving partners access to the most innovative tools and technology with which they can build a rich set of managed or project-based cloud services. The way in which we enable this dual approach is a major differentiator.

CF: What are your goals for the CloudCheckr channel over the coming year?

EL: Our success is defined by our partners’ success in delivering solutions and services to their customers. In addition to building out enablement resources and our partner development team, we’ll be watching closely to see that our efforts in developing new, innovative ways to amplify our partners’ businesses are materializing in channel growth.

Each year, we reference “top channel partner” lists across various industries to get confirmation that our partners are not only being recognized for their success but are progressing upward and earning distinctive accolades. At least 30% of the Channel Futures 2019 MSP 501 leverages CloudCheckr, for example — and nearly 70% of our partners are recognized here. We’d like to see each of our current partners on next year’s list.

CF: What do you consider your biggest accomplishments in working with the channel?

EL: My biggest and most rewarding accomplishment is in the recognition (and confidence) that CloudCheckr is the most channel-friendly cloud management company in our space. I take great personal pride in having crafted our …

… channel program and continuously adapting its design to fit our partners’ ever-evolving needs.

Second, our focus on driving value for and through the channel allows us to positively influence thousands of individual companies’ cloud transformations with our partners around the globe.

CF: Where do you see the cloud management market going over the next 12-18 months?

EL: The cloud management market is growing rapidly and, in many ways, just getting started. As companies increasingly adopt public cloud resources, they are facing increasingly complex requirements around controlling costs, administering infrastructure, managing security and even understanding their public cloud footprints.

This creates a unique opportunity for cloud management companies to simplify the complicated, provide total visibility and secure increasingly intricate environments. I expect to see companies expand their offerings to allow enterprises total control over multicloud environments. This market will be dynamic, challenging and massive.

CF: What advice would you offer to someone just starting out in channel leadership?

EL: Embrace the fact that you have a lot to learn — and, if you’re lucky, you always will. The channel is rich with diversity in experience, background, and perspective. Seek out opportunities to learn from and collaborate with your network; you’ll always do better together.

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About the Author(s)

Kelly Teal

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Kelly Teal has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist, editor and analyst, with longtime expertise in the indirect channel. She worked on the Channel Partners magazine staff for 11 years. Kelly now is principal of Kreativ Energy LLC.

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