Channel Heads Up: Here Comes Ecora

Ecora in the next few weeks plans to roll out two new channel programs it hopes will double its current reseller base of about 50 VARs, said Eric Dougherty, director of channel and partner sales for Ecora, Portsmouth, N.H.

The company has had no formal channel programs until now, he said.

"Direct sales is only so scalable," Dougherty said. "We are going to spend a lot of time on channel recruitment this year."

A single-tier program for consultants should arrive from Ecora "in the next couple of weeks," Dougherty said . The consultant program will essentially be a special licensing model for consultants with certifications for Ecora's Enterprise Auditor product, he said. Enterprise Auditor is a SQL Server-based, cross-platform change and configuration management reporting tool.

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Following the introduction of the consultant program, Ecora plans to introduce a traditional three-tiered partner program for VARs, Dougherty said. The details of the VAR program have not been finalized, but the program will have a look and feel similar to many other vendor channel programs, he said. In general, resellers looking to be top-tier or middle-tier partners foot the bill for certification on Ecora products, then in return get leads, discounts and co-marketing support, Dougherty said.

Ecora will rely on its direct-sales force to recruit partners for both of the new channel programs, Dougherty said. He gave the assurance that the direct-sales force will have adequate motivation to drive sales through resellers.

"We have a compensation-neutral policy when it comes to selling direct or through the channel," he said. "Our direct salespeople are regionally focused, and we will be focusing on juicing up the [indirect] ranks via direct sales."

One incentive for Ecora's direct force to engage the channel will be for better delivery of professional services, Dougherty said. Ecora wants to shrink its already-small professional services organization, a group that consists of about 10 people, he said.

Ecora believes its strength in identifying and reporting on not just a network's assets, but the configuration of those assets, ultimately will differentiate it in what is becoming a crowded market for change and configuration management software, Dougherty said.

Dave Gilden, COO of Acuity Solutions, a VAR in Tampa, Fla., who has sold Ecora products for just over a year, said the vendor will be well served by the new channel programs.

"They've been a little immature in their channel, because they grew up as a direct company," Gilden said. "But in the last six months they have made a lot of progress in channel relationships. And a good thing about them is [their] receptiveness to channel input. If the channel makes suggestions, [they listen], and are pretty good about changing on the fly."