CA Back In Channel Gear


The heart of the plan will embrace something the last channel effort lacked—unwavering commitment to the products CA intends to sell through partners, several CA sales executives and partners said on condition of anonymity.

The Islandia, N.Y., vendor has not put the finishing touches on the new strategy, a CA spokesman said. Asked for official comment on the program, CA issued a statement saying it wants to grow its business through resellers, integrators, service providers and OEMs. "We are evaluating our existing portfolio of products and processes to maximize our partners' assets in delivering solutions to our mutual customers," the statement read.

Said the principal at a Midwestern CA solution provider that earns about 40 percent of all revenue from CA products: "We've been working with [CA] on a joint effort to look at how they go after the midmarket. They really want to know how to do it right this time, and we've been feeding them what we know."

CA is looking at everything from increased marketing dollars for partners to the formation of a new group within the company to drive channel business as well as to the large number of customers CA dropped from the list of named accounts served primarily by its direct sales force, sources said. CA also is looking at how to offer more flexible product SKUs and to speed the approval process for partners in need of custom pricing, they added.

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In addition, sources said, CA is looking at ways to leverage its OEM relationships with vendors such as Hewlett-Packard in an effort to reduce software integration headaches for partners. Helping partners more effectively take bundled product suites to market and compete in customer environments that may already have one component of a suite from a rival vendor are also being discussed, a source said.

Heavy discounting from CA is already taking place. One partner in the South said a three-year license for CA's eTrust and PestPatrol products that was priced at $40,000 was discounted to $12,000 "just to make sure they moved product."

CA Executive Vice President Gary Quinn, who in June was reappointed to head CA's indirect business operations, is orchestrating the new channel effort. In April 2004, Quinn told CRN in an interview that the goal was to grow indirect sales from about 10 percent to about 30 percent. Today, CA's indirect sales are still about 10 percent of total sales, and CA knows why.

"We completely took our eye off the ball," a CA sales executive said. "Products like [BrightStor] ARCserve were not considered strategic to CA but that channel was strategic to us, and somebody forgot that if a partner is strategic for us, and ARCserve is half their business, then ARCserve must be a strategic product."

The result was "CA's products became just too much pain," a former high-profile CA partner said, adding that today his CA sales are so low as to be "off the radar." Another VAR that signed on as a CA VIP partner last year said because of issues with CA products he now leads with offerings from CA rival Symantec.

But a number of solution providers that have recently begun partnering with CA for the first time praised the vendor and its products.

David Lair, president of Lair Services, a Brandon, Fla., VAR who began working with CA only months ago, said channel representatives have been very responsive, aggressive about product training and happy to offer deep discounts to beat competitive bids.

Partners skilled in distributed network solutions are crucial not just to CA's goal of increasing indirect sales, but also to the vendor's future, a CA sales executive said. CA does not break out individual sales numbers for next-gen products like Protection Suites, and part of the reason is about 95 percent of CA's multibillion-dollar annual revenue comes from mainframe systems, he said. "You don't want to say as a company that you are generating a large part of your business from a dinosaur business," the executive said.