CA is trying to get back its channel groove with new ways of approaching VARs with software and services, and solution providers seem willing to give it another try.
CA is doing it by focusing on the midmarket and changing the way it handles new product and program introductions, said Adam Famularo, senior vice president and general manager of the Islandia, N.Y.-based storage and management software vendor's Recovery Management and Data Modeling Business Unit.
Famularo said that he is currently focused on bringing solution providers back to CA and on recruiting an additional 2,000 partners in North America.
It's a job which he admitted the company has not done well in the past. About three or four years ago, CA built its value business partner community, but lost focus on the volume side, including ARCserve data protection software and ERwin data and business process modeling software, Famularo said.
"We did well on the value side," he said. "But we realized we needed a strong business with other partners. We knew we needed to refocus on this business."
To that end, CA has put in place a dedicated sales and marketing team in the field working only with channel partners to build the volume business, Famularo said. "We know we need to get more of our LARs (large account resellers)" selling our solutions while rebuilding our channel base," he said.
The company has also implemented on-line sales and technical training for its solution providers, and made it easier for partners to contact the company for help, Famularo said.
Later this month, CA will put in place additions to its channel program specific to its new Recovery Management software application.
CA has been a decent company to work with, one that never had channel conflicts, said Greg Knieriemen, vice president of marketing at Chi Corp., a Cleveland, Ohio-based storage solution provider.
But the channel's business with CA has fallen thanks to a hangover effect from issues with ARCserve in the past that have since been fixed, as well as to the rise of alternate vendors such as CommVault Systems, of Oceanport, N.J., Knieriemen said.
CA can really use better integration between its direct sales and its channel sales teams, Knieriemen said.
"A couple of years ago, we put together a golf outing with CA's direct team," he said. "We wanted to get to know each other better, and went well. But then we fell back to our channel sales mode and their direct mode. We work better together as a team as opposed to islands."
Bob Venero, president of Future Tech Enterprise, a Holbrook, N.Y.-based solution provider, said that his company is looking to engage more with CA than in the past now that the vendor seems to be aligning itself more formally with the channel.
CA is showing a commitment to the channel from its top executives, and is engaging all its various team leaders in the channel, Venero said. "I don't think we had a lot of that management buy-in [to the channel] in the past," he said. "We're pleased to see them re-focus on the channel."
In addition to program changes, CA is also using changes to its product strategies to work more with the channel, Famularo said.
He said that while some of CA's most important software applications in the past might have gone up to four years between major releases, CA is now implementing a fixed schedule of releasing a major version of its applications every other year, with a minor revision coming out during the off-years.
For instance, CA's ARCserve R12 and XOsoft R12 were introduced during the first quarter of this year, Famularo said. Early next year, the company will release ARCserve R12v and XOsoft R12v, both of which will include virtualization and data deduplication capabilities. They will be followed by ARCserve R14 and XOsoft R14 in early 2010, which will feature a unified user interface.
Famularo said his company purposely skipped R13. "It's sort of like skipping the thirteenth floor in a building," he said.
The new release schedules tie into helping solution providers increase their margins. "We want to make sure resellers can make more money," he said. "We want them to be able to go to their customers every year and offer them more services."
Bringing ARCserve and XOsoft under one umbrella will be a big boost to customers who still think of backup and disaster recovery as separate processes despite the importance of combining the two, Knieriemen said.
Other companies like CommVault are already doing that in-part, he said. "It's good that CA is going in that direction."
CA is also turning its XOsoft suite of data replication, recovery, and availability software into a technology on which channel partners can offer disaster recovery and business continuity as a service to customers, Famularo said.
"We are already working on this with one partner who wants to offer disaster recovery as a service," he said. "It's set up so that if the customer goes down, it comes right back up. Or if a business-critical application goes down, we can make sure it will come back up right away. We expect the first partner to be finished within the next month."
As part of its storage as a service plan, CA does not host any of the customers' data, but instead relies on partners to handle the hosting, Famularo said. He contrasted that plan to that of the Symantec Protection Network strategy of arch-rival Symantec, Cupertino, Calif.
"I'm not going to create anything that competes with our channel partners," he said. "Symantec Protection Network is counter-intuitive to what the channel needs."