Quebec-based ESI Information technologies is EMC Canada Partner of the Year

Canadian channel chief Michael Kerr acknowledged that getting partners to commit to EMC as the partners are transitioning their businesses to add cloud capabilities and cutting-edge technologies to their practice is often a challenge. It’s also one factor in recognition as a top EMC partner.


EMC Canada Channel Chief Michael Kerr (left) with ESI’s Julie Cloutier and Patrick Naoum

LAS VEGAS – Tuesday night here, EMC presented its awards to its top Canadian partners. While several of the winners are among EMC’s – and Canada’s – largest channel partners, others were not, including this year’s winner as EMC Canada 2015 Partner of the Year, Montreal-headquartered ESI Information Technologies.

While sales are certainly important, EMC places a high premium on partners’ investment in them and willingness to commit wholeheartedly to them – and Kerr acknowledged that the selection of ESI as partner of the year reflects that. While they do have a Toronto sales office, they are primarily a Quebec-based company.

“ESI isn’t our largest VAR, and they don’t have a national reach,” Kerr said. “They do, however, embody what we are looking for in a partner.”

That includes making a significant investment in EMC.

“They have been in business almost 30 years, and were in business long before we arrived,” Kerr said. “However, they made an executive decision to expand their portfolio with EMC. They made a significant investment in our certifications. They are also enmeshing their two go-to-markets – on-prem and cloud – with us.”

Kerr acknowledged that the relationship hadn’t always been all sunshine and roses, but that unlike with some partner relationships, where business arguments turn into lifelong animosities, ESI had always successfully worked through the issues with EMC.

“There have been some problems, with tech implementations, and deals gone sideways, but we had instructive conversations with those and were able to move forward. That was the spirit of what they embodied as the partner of the year.”

Some other winners, like Teknicor Corporation, from the Greater Toronto Area, who won EMC Canada Industry Partner of the Year, and Montreal-based Gallium Infrastructure Technologiques, EMC Canada Services Partner of the Year, are also on the smaller side, and Kerr said recognizing this type of partner is as important as honouring the giants.

“Canada is very much a regional partner play,” he said. “For small partners like Teknicor or Gallium, EMC is a big part of their business. We need to recognize their faith in our technology, and to say ‘Thank You.’”

Kerr acknowledged that while EMC, like every vendor in the market, wants partners to lead with them, the reality in most cases is different.

“The number that lead with us is a fairly small percentage,” he said. “Even among our Top Ten producing partners, while they see EMC as a clear Tier One, they still can struggle with what they offer into the market. We have a significant challenge, particularly with the startup vendors, for mind space with the VAR. The startups have some advantages. They do a good job with field time, are able to get mind time, and can turn that into the old model of ‘I’ll give you more money if you sell my stuff.’ They typically also can’t sell direct in Canada, because they aren’t incorporated here, so they have to use the channel, and aren’t distracted by having a direct strategy. These things are why you have Tier One VARs selling startups so much.”

Kerr said EMC has to counter the startup advantages by doing a better job explaining their value proposition to the VARs – and a better job of communicating the VAR value proposition to EMC’s own sales people.

“We have to find creative ways of regaining that mind time with partners,” he said. “We also need to do a better job of explaining to our teams the value that the VARs bring. Our go-to-market strategy in Canada is fostering that knitting effect – bringing together the teams at the field level, explaining the value of VARs and how best to leverage them at the field level, and knitting our technology together with the go-to-market of the VAR.”

The other key EMC Canada partners, who were thanked with an award, were: Teramach Technologies , Growth Partner of the Year; Scalar Decisions, Canada West Region Partner of the Year; Bell Canada, Canada East Region Partner of the Year; Softchoice, Canada Central Region Partner of the Year; Decisive Technologies, Federal Partner of the Year; and Northern Micro, VCE Canada Converged Partner of the Year.