VARs: The 'New' CA Channel Is Working

Last April at CA World in Las Vegas, CA executives laid out a new channel landscape in North America in which its sales reps would have a neutral compensation plan for both direct and channel sales. At the time, the company also named 3,000 enterprise accounts in North America and another 1,000 worldwide that CA would target with its direct sales force, but noted that those accounts could also available to VARs, who could work direct with CA reps. Outside of those accounts, everything was going to the channel, said Bill Lipsin, senior vice president of worldwide channels at CA, Islandia, N.Y.

CA would not detail how many of the 3,000 accounts VARs are participating in, but business in the so-called non-named commercial accounts has increased as expected, Lipsin said.

"That was a bold move for us and we have started to execute on that. We have recruited partners to focus on that with us and our partners are driving demand generation with us," Lipsin said. "A number of partners have gravitated to that model."

For several years, Universal Solutions Group was happy to to pass license leads on to CA's direct sales force in order to do the services and implementation, but started selling the software about 18 months ago. Since CA's channel changes were announced last spring, business has increased dramatically, said Dave Rubino, president and CEO of the Glastonbury, Conn.-based solution provider.

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"Like anybody else, we were skeptical at first, but CA has done a good job moving and pushing their organization into the channel," Rubino said. "We feel like we're a more important part of CA's organization." In particular, improvements in online training, a partner portal and marketing initiatives have been impressive, Rubino said.

"Things are CA-USG branded now vs. us on their tails. They've become a tool in our organization," he said. USG now sells about $1 million in CA software a quarter and has a 24-month goal to get to $10 million in annual sales, Rubino said.

"We anticipate 100 percent year-over-year growth. We're on target to do that," he said

Crescent Enterprise Solutions, an Irvine, Calif.-based solution provider, also has seen a marked increase in CA revenue this year due to improved relationships, said Kevin Nikkhoo, president and CEO.

"We could tell the change because of the amount of attention, investment and programs that CA's bringing to the table. That's something I have not see in the past," he said. Nikkhoo said he has been in the IT business for 27 years with several companies and said CA's change has been dramatic, especially considering Crescent is a fairly new and low-volume CA partner.

"That's the excitement for us. CA wants us to succeed. I talk to my partner manager maybe five or six times a day. That's unheard of."

Some observers may view the 3,000 named accounts as a large number, leaving little opportunity for the channel, but Nikkhoo said that CA has been a good partner even within those enterprise accounts where he has teamed with the vendor.

"It works beautifully. It changes the game for us. We have the resources of CA behind us to help us penetrate that market. It's something most companies don't do," Nikkhoo said.

Meanwhile, CA now planning to make a huge channel push in Asia. That program is more evidence of CA's commitment to the channel, Lipsin said, but its development is not linked to channel success in the U.S.

In Asia, CA will maintain a direct sales relationship with large multinational customers, but in-country solution providers will be the primary sales channel for the majority of customers in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, the company said.

"We've stated a goal of in new sales, one-third would be in the indirect channel. We're on plan. As the company grows, the channel is becoming a key part of that," Lipsin said.

The driving force behind CA's channel reignition was CEO John Swainson's decision to reprioritize CA's focus, Lipsin said.