New StorageCraft channel chief Marvin Blough talks with ChannelBuzz about the plans to take the company to the next level, which include a new cloud offering this week.
Ex-SonicWALL CEO Matt Medeiros, who recently became the StorageCraft CEO when the company was purchased by private equity firm TA Associates at the beginning of this year, has been busily bringing in key members of the old SonicWALL team. Marvin Blough, who was channel chief at SonicWALL, and went with Medeiros to Dell after its acquisition, became vice president of worldwide sales — effectively the channel chief role since StorageCraft has a channel go-to-market model.
“SonicWall has always been profitable, but it was a matter of bringing in some new ownership which would provide some infusion into the company that would allow them to grow,” Blough said.
“TA and Matt looked at StorageCraft and concluded this was a good opportunity because they are in a good market,” Blough said. “It is a crowded market, but when you look at what’s going on, it’s less about backup and protection and much more about disaster recovery — how quickly can you get it back up and running. That’s where StorageCraft technology has an advantage because it is some of the best out there at that. Matt looked at them and thought they had good products, and had a channel go-to-market, which he knows how to do. Most of the management team is staying, but it is being supplemented with people who had grown a business from $50 to 500 million at SonicWALL.”
Blough said that he came over to StorageCraft from Dell because of his 15 year relationship with Medeiros.
“I didn’t leave Dell because of any dissatisfaction there,” he said. “I talked with Matt and this felt right as an opportunity. We see a big opportunity for us in Europe and Asia. It’s a channel go-to-market model and we know how to do that.”
The fact that both Medeiros and himself come from a security background, rather than the storage-related backup and recovery, isn’t an issue to Blough.
“It is a different space but it is very much an adjacent or similar space,” he said. “When I changed my LinkedIn for this position, and it sent out its mails, I was amazed by the number of people who called and who want to talk about working with us. These are people in the security space, many in managed services, a lot of them who are already building security infrastructure for clients, and who are also looking at protecting and storing their data. StorageCraft products are built from the ground up to be a managed service offering, so this is a great fit. I expected some crossover, but I’ve been surprised by the number of people who have called.”
Blough indicated that while the core go-to-market strategy won’t change, they intend to do some fine tuning.
“It’s an all-channel model, and that will stay the same,” he said. “You never say 100 per cent because some things come up, and an end customer can buy it off the web site, but this business is almost non-existent. Our intent and go-to-market is around the channel. We have no direct sales force.”
StorageCraft has always been SMB-focused, and today in North America they have about 4000 partners.
“Most of these are small managed service providers, with about 20-30 customers each,” Blough said. It’s a very similar channel to SonicWall, where many partners were smaller, but were also specialists at what they do. About 300 of our partners are larger.”
Blough indicated that bringing in some more larger partners is a priority.
“We intend to recruit partners who are larger — although not the VAR 500 guys, that’s not our market. We also see growing the DMR channel as an opportunity for us. Distribution will also be a key partner in all of this. We have some distribution relationships now, but we believe we are just scratching the surface of them.”
Improving StorageCraft’s Canadian presence is also on the agenda.
“We are in Canada, but are not as well established there as well as we would like to be,” Blough stated. “You will see us making investments to expand our presence in Canada, We need more people talking to partners. Canada has tons of potential for us.”
Making existing partners more effective is a top priority, and extending the product line is a key part of this.
“Realistically, you are always adding partners. But I would say the majority of our growth could come from making our existing partners a lot more productive than they are now. One way we will do this is by expanding the product offerings, and enhancing the product offerings. This week, we will announce a new cloud offering. Matt is fully committed to expanding the product portfolio and product line to provide new opportunities to sell StorageCraft solutions.”
A new channel program is also on the near horizon.
“The channel program today is a single tier program, so there is no differentiation between benefits and pricing,” Blough said. “What we want to do is add some differentiation.”
Today, StorageCraft has an extensive training program, both online and instructor-led, but training is not tied to program status because of this lack of differentiation.
“We will have certification programs, tied to the program differentiation, and provide additional benefits once the partner makes that commitment to us,” Blough said. “The content already exists, but we will formalize it a little bit more, with technical support and priority technical support. We want certified people immediately sent to Level 2 support.”
In addition, Blough said the new program will introduce other differentiated elements in areas like deal registration, and marketing funds, almost all of which will be tried to partner certification.
All of this will roll out fairly soon.
“I’m hoping for something by spring,” Blough said.