Earlier this week, management software vendor NetIQ named Charles "Chuck" Boesenberg as its president and CEO, replacing co-founder Ching-Fa Hwang, who was named chairman. Boesenberg spoke with CRN Associate Editor Jennifer Hagendorf Follett about NetIQ's relationship with its solution provider partners and the new partner program rolled out the day before the company announced its new leader.
CRN: What role do you see solution providers playing for NetIQ?
Boesenberg: Customers don't just buy from one vendor, they buy from multiple vendors, and a value-added reseller has a chance to integrate our great products with other companies' great products into a full solution, so I think that's a very key role the channel plays.
Second, I think the channel plays a key geographic role, where even though we have 1,200 employees, when you add the channel we're a lot bigger than 1,200, and they play that customer presence role around the world, so those are the two key things I look at in the channel.
CRN: Do you anticipate that the bulk of your channel growth activities would be concentrated overseas?
Boesenberg: I think what we rolled out before I was announced, the new channel program where we added the voice over IP and security management to the channels that were doing the Web analytics and infrastructure management, that program will also grow very significantly. It's easy to point out that as a company we could do more in international [markets and channels are very important internationally. So frankly, if you ask me what's your first channel priority, it's to embrace the current, announced, robust channel program and just work with those partners to give them great products and great programs.
I think the U.S. frankly in some ways will have the least change, though we'll be in execution mode, and I think internationally there's more chance for change right now as additional channels.
CRN: How would you characterize NetIQ's relationship with the channel over the past year?
Boesenberg: In my due diligence in taking the job, I reviewed various publications, various quotes, I looked at all the win reports after deals were won and it looked like the channel was playing an important role. Second, in my due diligence of talking to inside people at NetIQ, the VAR channel constantly came up, so I think we have a good relationship and it's our job to fuel that channel with more and more products and allow them to add value.
CRN: Is there a particular goal you have in mind for what percentage of NetIQ sales would involve a channel partner?
Boesenberg: No, I haven't gotten to that level of detail.
CRN: Are there particular product areas you think are best suited to the channel where you will be specifically concentrating on rolling out new, channel-friendly products?
Boesenberg: I'll avoid the word 'concentrate' because the Web analytics and infrastructure management partners have been in place. But as we move into security management, that's a great opportunity for us to leverage the channel infrastructure. Security management is products that we're putting on top of other people's security products, more for the management and monitoring of those products, so any time we are a partner with another technology vendor, it's a very strong channel opportunity.
The voice over IP program we announced, same thing. It's a new technology. I think what I would take away as someone looking at NetIQ, the new thrusts from the product standpoint are security and voice over IP, and I think it's a significant statement that the first thing we did was roll out a channel program.
CRN: What do you think channel partners will most notice as the difference between NetIQ under your leadership and the NetIQ of the past seven years?
Boesenberg: I hope what the channel sees is that we put even more focus on ease of use, ease of implementation, filling product holes, making it easy for our channel partners and our support people to support their customers. I think it's a natural evolution that says we need to become even more customer-focused. I'm really emphasizing, and you can see from the results and the growth and the profitability and the positive quotes from the channel, that we don't have a broken situation: We have a chance to embrace and enhance that channel.