Eric Barnhart’s background is in distribution, and he intends to use a distribution perspective on channel issues to help optimize Zerto partners’ abilities to leverage the total potential of the platform.
Continuous data protection vendor Zerto has made major changes to their channel management team this year. Earlier this year, they named Jim Ortbals as their new VP of Worldwide Channel and Cloud Sales, and Amber Johanson as VP of Global Pre-sales Engineering. Now they have announced two additional new executives, Emily Weeks is the new Director of Sales for East Americas and Eric Barnhart comes on board as the Director of Channel Sales in the Americas. Barnhart brings a somewhat different perspective to his new channel role, which he intends to leverage to enable more of Zerto’s channel partners successfully sell more Zerto.
A common pattern for channel executives is to move from vendor to vendor, often fairly frequently. Barnhart’s background is in distribution, and he has tended to stay in place for long periods.
“I was in my last role, at Avnet, for ten years previously, and was at Arrow for eight years before that,” Barnhart told ChannelBuzz. “Coming from distribution, my historic relationship with customers is much more based on a consultative approach to helping them run their business, as opposed to a ‘sell more of my products’ approach. That comes from the different relationship of executives in distribution. My relationship with the partner in distribution has been about helping them run and manage their business. What vertical markets can we focus on? Where’s the white space? How do we manage cash flow? How do we change comp plans to drive the right kind of behavior?”
Barnhart emphasize that he will bring that perspective to his new company.
“I will use the perspective I have developed to create different kinds of business conversations, having worked with hundreds, if not thousands of partners over the years,” he said.
Barnhart thinks that Zerto is well positioned as a platform vendor that bridges traditional and modern approaches to the market to drive transitioning partner businesses.
“I wanted to be with more cloud-focused, software-based, services-focused company like Zerto because of the changes in the way the channel is being utilized and the value that it provides,” he said. “Since the modern channel was created over 30 years ago by IBM, partners have evolved from resellers to VARs and now MSPs, trying to increase the value of their companies.
“I believe that Zerto can be a critical component of helping the partner make that transition to the next generation, because our technology lets them drive cloud consumption, lets them drive a monthly recurring revenue, and is services focused. At Zerto, we all believe in that value proposition to the channel partner in making that transition.”
Barnhart said that partners who sell Zerto successfully leverage its full value proposition, rather than simply offer it as a Disaster Recovery solution, which is its best-known application.
“We are a solutions enabler,” he stressed. “Partners who find success with Zerto do more than simply sell customers a point product. We enable other things to happen. We are often seen as a DR solution, but we are a resilience platform that converges backup, DR and automation. Partners who have adopted that approach are the ones who are being successful with Zerto, and there are many of those.”
This week, Rubrik, which came out of the hyperconverged backup space, announced additions to their platform which added DR and continuous data protection capabilities as well.
“We see this as an affirmation of our approach to the market, as this is what we have been offering ourselves,” Barnhart noted.
Historically, while Zerto manages traditional resellers and Cloud Service Providers in a single program, it has managed them differently through two different kinds of agreements, one for the cloud and the other, traditional resell perpetual or term licenses. It’s a model that global channel chief Ortbals acknowledged has become out of date as the two businesses have increasingly converged, but that the industry as a whole has struggled in coming up with a coherent replacement. Coming up with one is a top priority, Ortbald told ChannelBuzz earlier this year, but the goal is to develope that and implement it at the start of the next fiscal year in 2020. Administrative changes, on the other hand, don’t need to wait, and as a result, Barnhart’s job responsibilities have evolved.
“This role used to be entirely about VARs, not CSPs, and while the primary focus remains on the VAR channel, I now do both,” Barnhart said. “My role and responsibilities is evolving to include more around CSPs over time.
“Jim Ortbals reports to the CRO, and I report to Jim,” Barnhart added. “Jim and I collaborate on programmatic changes. In terms of execution in the Americas, that’s my responsibility, based on strategy Jim and I agree on.
So what impact are partners likely to see from changes to process, in advance of the major changes to program structure anticipated for next year?
“My team has 10 people, and my calling to them is to be evangelists to the marketplace,” Barnhart said. “I’m asking my team of channel account managers to work with partners to develop reference architectures that include Zerto. What are the complete solution sets that partners take to market and how do we best enable those? If we go to market with a storage vendor and a CSP, how do we best work together. Solving those issues of working together are one of the values of the channel. So we need to ensure partners are capable of doing that. This will be a co-ordinated effort to understand working with complementary and adjacent solutions. It will involve certification training and programmatic training to drive demand, as well as leveraging MDF.”
Barnhart said that this is a more aggressive strategy than what has been done in the past.
“I’m excited about what we are doing, and the team is buying in,” he said. My team is also fully engaged with partners in Canada, and we are expanding positive momentum that we have there.”