WASHINGTON D.C. – Cloud distributor Pax8 has partnered with data protection vendor Axcient/eFolder in a deal which will see the two cloud-based Axcient/eFolder product lines sold through distribution for the first time. The agreement, which is a North American one, was announced at the CompTIA ChannelCon show here, where both companies are exhibiting.
Axcient/eFolder was formed last summer in a merger designed to create one much larger company that could serve as a credible alternative to fast-growing Datto. A lot of change has occurred since. Axcient’s founder and CEO Justin Moore, who had become Chief Strategy Officer at the merged company, departed within months for early retirement once the integration of the companies had been achieved. Matt Nachtrab, who had been Chief Strategy Officer at eFolder himself before moving into the CEO role a year ago, departed suddenly a month ago by mutual consent, with company President Eric White taking over in the top leadership role. While the eFolder brand was identified as the corporate brand moving forward last year, Axcient has re-emerged in a dual branding format, visible at the ChannelCon event.
Both of the two products impacted by this deal were originally from the eFolder side of the house. Anchor is a cloud sync and share solution for mobile workers that eFolder acquired in 2013, which was designed to be very easy to use, and has the further advantage of having been designed for MSPs out of the gate, so that it is fully tenanted. CloudFinder is a cloud-to-cloud backup service that came to eFolder through a 2014 acquisition. Significantly, while it backs up multiple solutions including ones from Salesforce and Google, it is well-suited to backing up Office 365, and that has been its main use case.
“Office 365 has 30-day retention natively while CloudFinder has unlimited retention,” said Jason Bystrak, Axcient/eFolder’s vice president of worldwide channels and distribution. “As a result, it has been used primarily for Office 365 backup retention and restoration. MSPs like it because you can see organizations right down to the suite level. They have a single log-in to manage through a single client.”
Bystrak, who spent over two decades at Ingram Micro, much of it on the cloud side of the house, before leaving for eFolder early this year, indicated that these two products had been sold direct to MSPs previously, but that selling them through distribution confers significant advantages both for Axcient/eFolder and their MSPs.
“Like most software vendors, it’s not efficient for us to sell an MSP a small number of seats – say, three seats of Anchor,” he said. “MSPs have had to buy a minimum of 25 seats of Anchor and 100 of CloudFinder. Through Pax 8, they can buy a smaller number of seats to better align with their resources.”
Pax8, on the other hand, introduced their Stax Business Intelligence tool earlier this year, which automates the process of identifying complementary solutions in each customer’s existing technology stack and filling them in, and makes it easy for Pax8 to provide the same kind of service.
“Pax8 Stax lets us support and bundle in a small number of seats and still be cost-efficient for us,” said Ryan Walsh, chief channel officer at Pax8. “It’s built into the platform.”
Pax8 has more of a boutique distribution model, where they have a much smaller line card than their broadline cloud competitors, and work closely with each vendor. While they have products which compete with both Anchor and CloudFinder on their line card, they don’t have a lot, and these products provide their MSPs with more choice.
“For sync and share we have Pax8 Cloud Drive, which is Gladinet’s CentreStack, which we rebranded and deployed as our own product,” Walsh said. “We needed another option.”
For cloud to cloud backup they have solutions from Datto and Double-Take, which has been acquired by Carbonite.
“For sync and share, we were told to check out Box and DropBox, and we did talk to them,” Walsh said. “However, Axcient/eFolder got both the channel and MSPs better. These products are specifically made for MSPs, and that’s important. We started talking to them before Jason came in, and when he got there, it was a no-brainer.”
Bystrak said that several factors made this a good relationship for them.
“We sell 100 per cent to MSPs, and that’s their business as well, he said. “They are also killing it with Office 365. It makes sense to sell an Office 365 backup product like CloudFinder with Office 365, and Anchor is a great Outlook product. Bundling and aggregating through a single partner will make a big difference.”
Bystrak said the relationships were also a factor in doing this deal.
“I had worked with Ryan through CompTIA when I was at Ingram,” he said. “Both companies are also based in Denver, which is an advantage. That sounds silly in a cloud world, but not when it comes to salespeople collaborating. We are able to do face-to-face synergy events because of that.”
The deal went live on July 20, and Bystrak said all the signs were good right out of the gate.
“We signed up three MSPs in the first week through these guys,” he said. “We offered two 45-minute training sessions, and each went 90 minutes, because of great questions from both a sales and technology standpoint around the product and marketing strategies.”
When Bystrak came on board at eFolder, establishing a proper distribution strategy and fine-tuning internal processes to make sure it would work was a top priority.
“Distribution was a major focus area, and that involved making changes involving compensation parity for the sales team, and building processes to manage operations in a two-tier model,” Bystrak said.
An issue involving CloudFinder not having the right APIs to integrate with Pax8 and turn on provisioning automatically was quickly resolved as a result.
“Jason brought in a manager who had a good conversation with our engineer and led to a decision to prioritize the APIs,” Walsh said. “It’s rare to see things happen that fast.”
“We expect that our business through Pax8 will be more profitable than our MSP-direct business,” Bystrak stated.