After a three-month search that started just before its annual North American Partner Conference in January, Red Hat has found its new North American channel chief, naming former VCE and Cisco channel exec D. Martin to the role.
Martin, who last year handed over VCE’s VAR partners to Bill Sullivan in order to focus on new and strategic partnerships for VCE, joins Red Hat just in time for its annual sales kickoff. That timing gives him a chance to dive right in, he said.
“Every presentation I’ve seen here, from the CEO on down, has talked about partners, and about the importance of our partner to Red Hat. I was really impressed with that,” Martin said.
He moves into the role as Red Hat dramatically expands the number of products that are (or soon will be) available to its channel partners, bringing its hybrid cloud and even public cloud offerings into the hands of its channel for the first time. One of Martin’s big roles will be to both get the company’s current partner base excited, educated, and incented on the new offerings, and to source partners new to Red Hat to join the company.
“You’re always in recruitment mode, but my initial strategy is that we’ve developed very strong relationships with our partners, and we want to continue to enable those partners and get them driving more solutions,” he said.
One area where the company may look to grow its partner ranks is in the number of Cisco partners it works with. Martin said Red Hat already has a lot of crossover with the Cisco partner community, but as the two companies partner and collaborate more, he sees an opportunity to get more Cisco partners adding Red Hat software to their mix. It helps that it’s a familiar community to Martin. And it helps that he finds similarities in the channel go-to-market approach of Cisco and his new employer.
“The model they’ve built here is very similar to what Cisco’s been doing, and that’s one of the things that attracted me to Red Hat,” he said. “Partners who are used to Cisco will find it easy to work with Red Hat, because there’s a lot in common.”
Prior to getting out and doing the usual new channel chief tour of top partners, Martin is getting the company side of the story at the sales kickoff, and that has included early talks with Red Hat Canada boss Luc Villeneuve about the company’s partner presence in Canada.
“We have good engagement now, and we want to take that to the next level. In Canada, I’ll work with Luc to drive a strong field,” he said. “Luc and I are in lock-step in focusing on driving enablement, driving join engagement on accounts. Now it’s incumbent on all of us to execute against our customers’ requirements.”
Martin takes a role last filled by Roger Egan, who left Red Hat at the beginning of the year to take a role with Red Hat partner and fellow open source software company Docker. Egan’s departure thrust global channel chief Mark Enzweiler into double duty at the company’s partner conference, both taking on Egan’s role as event host, and grabbing some time aside from the show to do phone interview with prospects for the job. Egan’s new role means he’ll still be working Enzweiler, and now Martin, although from the other side of the fence.
“It’s going to be interesting. He hasn’t called me up yet to ask for MDF, though,” Enzweiler said at Partner Conference.