Igneous adds two new channel leaders, expands partner program incents

Unstructured Data Management-as-a-Service adds former Qumulo channel leader Jim Choumas as Vice President of Channel, while channel veteran Leonard Iventosch becomes Chief Channel Advisor.

Jim Choumas, Vice President of Channel, Igneous.

Seattle-based startup Igneous, which sells an Unstructured Data Management as-a-Service solution through a 100 per cent channel model. has announced both new channel leadership and the strengthening of its partner program. Jim Choumas, who had most recently built up Qumulo’s channel program, comes on board as Vice President of Channel. Leonard Iventosch, who worked with Choumas as Chief Channel Evangelist at Qumulo, joins Igneous as Chief Channel Advisor – while also continuing in the Qumulo gig. Along with the new executives, significant changes have also been made to the channel program.

Igneous focuses on the management of unstructured data at scale, particularly as companies move more of this data to the public cloud.

“There are others that do flavours of this, and do some, if not all of the things that we do,” said Allison Armstrong, Igneous’ VP of Marketing. “However, we provide a holistic set of services in one offering. We also do it at scale, with multiple petabytes, and that is different.”

There are three services, two of which are generally available now, and the third, DataFlow, being in tech preview. DataDiscover lets partners quickly assess a customer’s NAS data profile, to determine the best data archive and protection operation for their clients. DataProtect provides backup, recovery and archive as-a-Service. DataFlow extends the management of API-driven automated data protection workflows to any operation requiring intelligent data movement at scale, including machine learning pipelines and  IoT data workflows, providing teams with self-serve and automated dataset movement for analysis, simulations and collaboration.

“We work with any NAS system in the cloud, and we don’t care where the data is located,” Armstrong said. “We provide services for all of data owners, wranglers and stewards – which is unique. And we also deliver as a service, as software on SuperMicro hardware or as a VM for our DataDiscover solution, which is hardware-free.”

The Igneous channel program, which came into being last year, is designed to support a select number of partners taking this offering to market.

“We have been 100 per cent channel-focused from day one,” Choumas said. “Our strategy is all about getting the right partners, who are aligned to verticals we target, not signing up tons of partners and creating a lot of conflict. Partners who join our program will enjoy the benefits, and not have to look over their shoulder for people trying to steal business like we have seen with other companies.”

Choumas explained how the channel organizational structure will work.

“Leonard is really the godfather of the channel,” he said. “His capacity is to look forward and see where we are taking the channel from a very high level. That mapping out is where his expertise really stands out. He’s there to guide things. The day to day stuff is under my responsibility. He’s a great person to have on board to kick around ideas in such a changing environment, especially as to how the cloud impacts the environment and our partners.”

The changes to the channel program have a simple core goal.

“It’s about getting partners excited about working with us,” Choumas said. “Mindshare is everything in this business, and partners have a lot of choices. We want them to keep us in mind, by providing strong economic benefits of working with Igneous.”

That begins with a guaranteed margin model.

“We have redefined margins in a way that they don’t have to worry if margins will be eroded as they go through the sales process,” Choumas indicated. “There is also a higher margin if they bring a deal. When they have a relationship with a customer, we incent them to bring us in. We have enhanced our spiff programs to align with our strategy. We also pay top dollar for deal registration, more than other companies out there. And we have a Close incentive, which is one of the most aggressive in industry today. They can earn tens of thousands of dollars if they close the deal.”

Igneous has also changed their sales structure so that partners now get all the margin on hardware.

“We have shifted our model so that we are now just a software company,” Choumas said. “We are no longer in the hardware business, and the partner will now get the entire margin on the hardware part of the sale.”

Igneous is also introducing a free, frictionless, software-based Test Drive experience for partners.

“It incents them to get us aware of DataDiscover and its unique benefits,” Choumas said. “It’s easy for them to deploy and set up, and it is something that they can do independently of us.”

Choumas also stressed that there is a strong professional services play for partners with Igneous.

“We train partners to support professional services,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to build around the professional services side of the business.”

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