Climb Channel Solution Vendor Execs On Partnerships, Expansion And The VMware-Broadcom Deal

'When we look at things like what's going on with VMware, if you've got your partnership with VMware, great, we're not here to completely replace that,' says Christie Kanen, Canadian channel manager for Scale Computing. 'We are understanding what's going on in the market and the trends and understanding that customers want options.'

From partner enablement to enhancing security offerings to being another alternative to VMware, seven vendor executives who sell through Climb Channel Solutions discuss how they're doubling down on the channel.

The vendor executives took the stage at Climb's partner conference in Birmingham, Ala., this week to discuss a host of topics in front of a room full of MSPs.

The panels were moderated by Carlos Rodrigues, VP of sales, Canada and U.S. vendor manager team at Climb; and Sarah Peters, director of national alliances for Climb.

Panelists included Rick Fredrickson, director of global channels at Canonical; Shane Popham, director of channels at OpenText; Phil Trickovic, senior vice president at Tintri; Mikey Pruitt, partner evangelist for DNS Filter; Craig Pfister, global vice president of sales engineer for Kiteworks; Christie Kanen, Canadian channel manager for Scale Computing;

and Leslie Lorenco, VP of global channel sales at Security Compass.

“We're not just pushing product,” Popham said. “We're helping solve global challenges that are unique to different industries.”

Popham even touched on AI and how OpenText is helping partners harness the technology.

“To have great AI means great information,” he said. “We have a very big drive to enable AI throughout organizations because it's going to become rampant. Things are going to evolve and they will be automated so we need to be prepared. We're securing AI and securing all that information to ensure that there aren't any breaches."

When it comes to working with partners, Scale Computing’s Kanen said it comes down to a mutual relationship.

“It's not the partner dictating things and it's not us dictating things, it's really understanding the business model between both companies understanding what is the go-to-market strategies, and what are your customers need at the end of the day,” she said.

And that has recently played into the channel shake-up involved in Broadcom's November 2023 acquisition of VMware for $61 billion.

“When we look at things like what's going on with VMware, if you've got your partnership with VMware, great, we're not here to completely replace that,” Kanen said. “We are understanding what's going on in the market and the trends and understanding that customers want options. It's making sure that we are understanding what is that go-to-market strategy but also understanding that at the end of the day we know that [MSPs] are the ones that are being trusted by your customer to be those consultants.”

Check out what the vendors had to say on a host of topics including customer pain points, being an ideal partner and helping MSPs grow their business.

Tintri’s Trickovic On Biggest Customer Pain Points

The answer is the mess with VMware-Broadcom. That for the last four months has dominated the conversations in the market. There's also confusion around AI and how you deliver a training model that actually adds real value to the business. So those two things I would say are the biggest. We're starting to see some of these LLMs (large language models) and other associated training models roll out and be very chaotic and disorganized. It's obviously going to gel and it will be a really cool world going forward. The legacy architectures are starting to drop off. The traditional architectures do not really function efficiently well on these new stacks that are emerging, so we're very focused on that and delivering clarity.

OpenText's Popham On Partner Consolidation Issues

What customers are saying is, 'I have 100-something different cyber products. I don't know what they all do. Can you help me understand? Are there other ways to simplify this? Can I piece together or can I get rid of something? Can I work with partners to help provide services to link them together?'

Canonical's Fredrickson On Utilizing The Channel To Solve End Customer Problems

There are various ways that channel businesses can help a company like ours. It might be demand generation, sales efforts, delivery services, level one support, managed service providers or all these other things in between. We talked to our partners and we put that out there and said, 'We're on this matrix. What's most relevant to you and your partners and how are you supporting them?'

Tintri's Trickovic On Partners Looking To Expand In Emerging Markets

We're looking for partners that are looking to expand into this emerging market. We have seen some bifurcation or trifurcation going on within the channel and some of it's focused on how to simplify what's coming. We're really trying to push into simplifying what's coming into the VAR community. It's getting the simplicity out so we're very much looking for partners to focus on simplicity, effectiveness and to be able to deliver a real easy ROI.

Canonical's Fredrickson On The Ideal MSP Partner

The strongest thing is a desire to do something different, it's somebody who is really trying to take their customers to a different place and push the envelope. That can be in all sorts of forms. It can be them offering support at a much higher level of service or solution-oriented smaller players that are bringing us the problems. The biggest thing is those partners who are having those aggressive conversations.

Scale Computing's Kanen On Capturing VMware Partners

It's continuing to understand what those trends are within the edge computing space, getting the Scale Computing name out there and helping to address those on-prem applications. The other side is the Broadcom and VMware acquisition. Our goal this year is to take that opportunity, run as much as we can at it and bring over as many customers as we can off of VMware and over to Scale Computing.

Security Compass’ Lorenco On Enhancing Security Offerings For The Midmarket

Security by design is really much more of an enterprise play. It's large government and high compliance companies like Bank of America, financial services, companies like that. This year we're actually launching a midmarket product that is aimed more at those smaller shops that don't have 2,000 developers. We're really trying to come downstream from that enterprise lake to midmarket. The goal as we enter next year is start to really push into that MSP play and go after partners that do this work on behalf of their customers, and helping them do it more.

DNS Filter's Pruitt On MSP Relationships

Our journey is all about communication and building our relationships. We're relatively new to the channel and we're still really feeling everything out. We're very eager to make relationships happen. There's a lot of willingness on our part to be flexible to [MSP] needs to make sure that they have what they need, technology wise. We just released our reseller training which will tell MSPs all about DNS Filter, and what filtering is, and then all about what kind of customers to look out for the and people that are prime candidates for our solution.

Kitework's Pfister On A Holistic Partner Approach

What we’re seeing in the market or demand from clients is that it’s not just about technology, people are looking for holistic solutions. People are looking for specific technology, and then there's process and documentation that goes with it. Our organization strategically does not do services. Once we hit that post sales world, there are things we will do to help clients, like we can stand them up in a matter of hours. I will do everything to enable you and help you along the way, but [the customer] is trusting you for your business, advice and understanding of the market. You're going to take them along this path… that's the only way we move this forward. It's willing to be enabled, willing to understand things and understand the business value that comes into it. Once you structurally understand the business value, then we go on to the services side of things and you can really manage that relationship from start to finish.