Microsoft-focused ISV AvePoint has a fairly large channel today, but there have been significant gaps in the enablement resources they are provided, and the consistency with which are provided globally. The plan is to change that.
Jason Beal, who spent six and a half years in channel management roles at Palo Alto Networks, and was at distributor Ingram Micro for nine and a half years before that, has joined AvePoint as their senior vice president of global channel and partner ecosystems. It’s part of a general strengthening of AvePoint’s channel resources, which saw Tony Lanni also recently return to the company as senior vice president of channel marketing. And it reflects a desire by AvePoint to bring much more strategy to a channel strategy which has been inconsistent across geos and partners, and has been comparatively weak in key areas like training and certification.
AvePoint is an ISV that develops collaboration, security and governance solutions, which include migration and digital rights management, principally, although not exclusively for the Microsoft platform. While they started out doing SharePoint solutions, they have broadened well beyond that to include deep focuses on Azure and Microsoft 365.
“We are a five-time Microsoft partner of the year, but we support other SaaS management platforms, like Salesforce Backup for example,” Beal told ChannelBuzz.
While AvePoint did start out selling direct to larger customers, they have reached out to the channel in recent years.
“Historically, we have focused on the enterprise and large public sector business, but in the last five years, we have built out a strong partner and sales team to address the midmarket, and in the last three years, we have addressed the SMB through cloud marketplaces,” Beal said. “We have built a great network of global distributors, including Ingram, Tech Data and Synnex, and with regional specialists. In Canada, we work with [Trois-Rivières Quebec-based] ITcloud.canada.”
That being said, Beal acknowledged there have been gaps in the company’s strategy, which is why his job and Lanni’s job – both net-new positions – were created.
“Globally in all sectors, we are in the field with partners every day, but what we haven’t had before now is a more harmonized channel strategy and a lot of the channel infrastructure partners are used to from OEMs and ISVs today,” he said. “That includes things like a structured channel program and channel marketing program. That’s what I’m here to do, to structure and harmonize things globally, working actively with partners. My role and Tony’s role are investments in AvePoint’s channel strategy, to build out a strong structure.”
The timing of this was dictated by the explosion of opportunities in the data management and collaboration space.
“SaaS data management is growing because of megatrends in digital transformation,” Beal said. “Teams last year added 100 million more users. Channels are the force multiplier for this market, and the primary growth vehicle in the future.”
Top priorities include bringing consistency to the company’s network of global channel programs, whose present diversity is less than ideal for partners who operate in multiple geos.
“There are multiple channel programs around the globe,” he said. “We will establish one global program, with local adaptability at the last mile.”
Building out resources to better manage channel enablement is another imperative.
“While I’m still listening and learning with respect to specific plans for execution, we are expanding the team, adding channel management and channel technical enablement across the board,” Beal said. “I’ve already hired half a dozen people, and I have a dozen open positions today. We need to do more to train and enable partners. This will include the formalization of a sales and training curriculum in the coming quarters. There is no formal certification program today.”
Channel expansion is also on the drawing board, but the plan is to be selective.
“Distribution has already brought us over 1000 MSP partners globally, and we expect they will continue to ramp up and recruit for us, especially given that partner business models are very diverse these days,” Beal said. “Our philosophy there is quality over quantity. We want to invest in partners who want to invest in us. We also want a diverse partner ecosystem where we have relationships with each of the partner types, so we can scale while having key bilateral relationships.”