EMC's SMB Channel Champ Retires, But Program Goes On


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The man who spearheaded EMC's small-business channel initiatives resigned this month, but the storage giant and its solution providers said he left a well-oiled channel program.

Larry Zulch, formerly vice president and general manager of small and medium business products at EMC, resigned in early February following EMC's decision to make the remnants of his former company, Dantz Development, part of the mainstream EMC organization, instead of keeping it as an autonomous unit.

EMC acquired Dantz in October 2004. With the nearly $50 million deal, EMC obtained Dantz's Retrospect data protection software, including products for the Macintosh platform, and the software became the foundation from which EMC's Insignia small-business initiative was launched last February.

EMC decided that, with the success of its small-business channel, it was time to bring the legacy Dantz team into EMC's overall organization, a company spokesperson said. As a result, EMC has laid off roughly one-third of the legacy Dantz team, or about 40 people, as part of a larger layoff of 1,350 that the company announced several months ago, the spokesperson said.

Taking over the Insignia program was John Palmer, who serves as vice president and general manager for EMC Insignia. An EMC veteran, Palmer joined Zulch's organization at the time of the Dantz acquisition.

Zulch, who spoke to CRN from his home in northern California, said he resigned because the Insignia program was running well and had proven itself. "Anything in EMC has skepticism until it proves itself," he said. "Then they want to own it."

Zulch, who with his brother founded Dantz 22 years ago, said he enjoyed bringing Dantz into EMC. "It was a fun thing to do, to be part of a large company but remain entrepreneurial," he said. "I was proud of our channel with EMC and glad to see EMC move in the channel direction."

Zulch said he wasn't surprised to see EMC absorb the Insignia program into the company. "When we were doing our planning for 2007, back in the third or fourth quarter of last year, it became clearer that there different options for Insignia, including mainstreaming it," he said. "A group of us felt it was a good thing. We were isolated. As part of EMC, we could be more efficient, more integrated."

While Insignia was run in an autonomous fashion at EMC, Zulch said he knew from day one that it wouldn't last. "The plan all along was to bring EMC into SMB," he said. "If I wanted to be independent, I would have done something different."

The layoffs of Dantz personnel, though painful, resulted from duplicate structures in EMC and the Insignia organizations and in other recent EMC acquisitions, Zulch said. "The people laid off were in overlapping areas and in areas that did not fit EMC's strategy," he said. "And I am proud of EMC's generosity towards our people."

Pete Koliopoulos, vice president of global channel marketing at EMC, said the Hopkinton, Mass.-based company has done what it needed to do from a marketing standpoint. "We've done the integration, and Retrospect partners will continue to be in the Insignia program. If we've done our job right, it should be transparent to the channel," he said.

NEXT: Retrospect under the EMC umbrella.
So far, that seems to be the case. Charles Edge, a partner at 318, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based solution provider, said working with Retrospect has become much easier since EMC acquired Dantz, and EMC continues to support its channel partners.

"We have farther reach with EMC than before because of access to their other products, and the fact they have dedicated people to deal with the channel," Edge said. "That makes it more channel-friendly. Before, it was just a reseller thing. We sold the software, and that's it. EMC is not a one-trick pony. Dantz was."

EMC is now more likely to spend time in 318's office discussing small-business software and hardware, and those conversations have moved from marketing information to in-depth technical discussions, Edge said.

Zulch's departure was inevitable, according to Edge. "That's the way things are in any organization," he said. "I hope it doesn't impact the channel. From a solution provider perspective, we don't have much interaction at the executive level. Maybe this gives EMC a chance to bring in new blood."

Jerry Pape, a long-time friend of Zulch's and principal at Excalibur, a Big Sky, Mont.-based solution provider, said he has had meetings with Zulch every month except December, so he has seen that EMC has a road map for Retrospect. Zulch's resignation is no more than the natural evolution of what happens after a company is acquired, Pape explained.

"When you are acquired, you try to set a tone for the new company, and then you leave," Pape said. "Larry has done what he planned to do and has groomed his replacement. He has also left a support team that is second to none. There is no better inside-sales support team that the one with Insignia."

The main area of concern for many people is whether EMC is committed to continuing the development of Retrospect for the Mac, Pape said. The Windows version has had several revisions since EMC acquired Dantz, but that hasn't happened on the Mac side.

"It's no big deal," Pape said. "Features change in the PC version specific to changes in PCs. But on the Mac side, there is no reason for changes. Backups are end-user operable and end-user comprehensible on the Mac side."

Zulch said he expects to eventually become an entrepreneur but will be open to working with a larger company, including EMC, if the right opportunity comes along. But for now, his only plan is to take his wife to Paris for a vacation.

"Between founding Dantz and moving to EMC, it's been 22 years since I had two weeks off," Zulch said.

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