Imation targets Windows to Go solution providers in major IronKey channel program redo

Imation sees a strongly developing market for Windows to Go, and wants partners with the right Microsoft competencies

Eric Krauss, Director Channel Sales and Business Development, for IronKey by Imation

Eric Krauss, Director Channel Sales and Business Development, for IronKey by Imation

Storage and security solution vendor Imation has announced a major reworking of its IronKey channel program to better support its partners and strengthen Imation’s growing mobile workspace business, its family of IronKey Workspace PC on a Stick products for Windows To Go.

Imation, which was formed in 1996 when 3M spun its data storage business off into a separate company, is a long time storage player, but in 2011 it acquired assets of five separate companies, including IronKey, and has developed a growing security business.

“We are building around two core elements, our Secure Storage and our Secure Workspace product lines,” said Eric Krauss, Director Channel Sales and Business Development, for IronKey by Imation. “Secure Workspace is a collaboration with Microsoft, a PC on a stick that enables any organization to have road warriors be productive in a mobile environment.”

Krauss said that while the acquisition was almost three years ago, this is the first revamp of the IronKey program since then.

“We have been trying to put the pieces together to roll this out,” he said. “IronKey was very much a direct sales force organization, and had just been trying to build an indirect sales force before they were sold off.”

The new program that Imation has put together is designed to attract and support security-focused resellers with professional services practices.

“Microsoft has well over thirty competencies today, but not all are a good match for us,” Krauss said. There are two core competencies for Workspace – Device and Deployment, and Management and Virtualization. There are professional services tied to Workspace, and those partners with those competencies are the partners we are going after.”

Krauss said this is a very different philosophy of channel management from what the company has done on the storage side, where product is available through open distribution, and you don’t need a certification to sell it.

“We sell to about 1000 resellers and have a couple hundred in our program but this one is designed to get a new type of partner and recruit them,” Krauss said. “These are partners with not just sales organizations but professional services organizations. Ideally, they will have those two competencies and a security practice of some sort.

To this end, while the original IronKey program had two levels – an Elite level based on meeting volume requirements and an Associate level with no volume requirements, the new program has three levels and is tied more to market expertise. Silver is the entry level and Gold the premier level, but now there is a Platinum level which requires one of those two Microsoft competencies as well as a volume commitment.

Benefits for the top two tiers in particular have been added or enhanced. This includes recurring revenue being modified to accommodate partners, and the addition of deal registration and bid pricing for Gold and Platinum partners.

“We had deal registration to some degree in the past, but it wasn’t utilized or promoted effectively,” Krauss said.

Training has also been enhanced.

“What’s new is a web-based training portal, which makes it easier to manage sales training,” Krauss said. “At the Platinum level, we require a minimum of five sales and two technical people trained, and two sales and one technical person trained at the Gold level.” The technical training remains face to face.

The internal sales team has also been restructured to better work with partners on joint sales opportunities.

“In the past, we had inside sales, field sales and channel reps, and after the acquisition, there was no direct sales but the groups were not aligned at that point in time,” Krauss said. They are now all better aligned to identify sales opportunities and work with partners to address questions.

The IronKey Partner Portal, which provides lead tracking, partner news and archives, sales and marketing support programs, training and certification information, technical support resources and a resource library, has also been enhanced.

“We had an online portal but we have improved it so that it is much more robust and useful for partners doing things like marketing campaigns,” said Marina Donovan, Executive Director Global Marketing, IronKey by Imation.

“The ease of navigation is a big change, and the content has been upgraded,” Krauss added. “Marina and her team have revamped all off the documentation, so it is now specifically targeted at verticals.”

Donovan said they are expecting a strong response from partners because the market opportunity for their Workspace PC on a Stick products for Windows To Go is extremely strong.

“Windows To Go is a brand new technology and a lot of resellers don’t even know it exists,” she said. “It’s a brand new market and as Microsoft does a better job on messaging Windows to Go, I think this will be strong year for its awareness and execution. We are looking for people to do those deployments, who work in device deployment and management virtualization, and who make their revenues on recommendations as much as selling product. We will be recruiting very heavily in that space in the weeks and months to come.”