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Novell Veteran To Assume Channel Chief Post

The company says the revamp of partner program will continue uninterrupted despite latest change in channel management.

software

The move is the latest of several changes in channel management at Novell in little more than a year. The latest change also comes as the company is undertaking a major revamp of its channel program, including assembling a deal registration system and developing standard product price lists for partners.

Dragoon, in an interview Thursday, said Novell's channel operations have always been part of the company's marketing operations and his assuming the role of channel chief is a natural step. "Everything we do in the marketing organization is done with a partner mentality," he said. While he acknowledged that not having a dedicated channel chief could be misinterpreted to mean Novell isn't as interested in the channel, Dragoon said that isn't the case, "That's my accountability, to be partner-centric," he promised.

Reporting to Dragoon to help manage day-to-day channel operations are former Microsoft executive Steve Hale, who oversees channels for Novell's data center software, and former LANDesk executive Mark Taylor, who manages channels for Novell's end-user computing products.

Colado, who had been general manager of Novell's EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) central region before being named general manager of channel operations, is replacing Volker Smid in the EMEA president post. Wednesday a Novell spokesman said Smid "left to pursue other interests." Colado will return to Madrid, Spain, where he lived before becoming channel chief.

Dragoon said the long-range plan had always been for Colado to eventually assume the EMEA president post and for channels to move under Dragoon's direct management, but Smid's departure happened sooner than expected.

Novell's top channel management job has been something of a revolving door for more than a year now. In November 2007, the channel executive ranks underwent major changes that included the departures of Steve Erdman, vice president and general manager of channels and alliances, and James Simzer, director of North America Partner sales. Former Hyperion executive Pat Bernard was named channel chief, but she "left to pursue other interests" in August after nine months on the job. Colado was named to the post just over a month later.

Colado embarked on a major overhaul of Novell's channel program, including establishing a deal registration system and a standard product price list for partners, and reducing conflict with services provided by Novell and its channel partners. The target date for implementing those changes was the end of the first quarter. Colado won't assume his new role until the new program has been rolled out and Dragoon said the change in channel management will "absolutely not" result in any delay in the program changes.

"We had a lot of complaints from our partners," Colado acknowledged in an interview just before the holidays, after he had spent two months meeting with solution providers. "We had a lot of partners complain about their profitability [and how] they were not able to make money working with us. Most of the partners perceived us as a very difficult company to work with. And partners had the perception that they had to invest more in us than we were investing in them."

The changes being implemented to Novell's channel program fall into four buckets: improving channel partner profitability, making Novell easier to do business with, increasing Novell's financial investment in channel partners, and better enabling partners through training and avoiding channel conflict.

Along with providing Novell's 6,000 partners with a better deal, Colado said the channel program changes are designed to encourage resellers to identify and sell to more new customers. While 60-65 percent of Novell's sales are indirect through partners, much of that is simply fulfillment of deals that were generated by Novell's direct sales force, according to the channel chief. "The goal is to have more business coming through the partners without our sales force getting involved," he said. Or, at least, bring partners into deals earlier after Novell sales reps have identified an opportunity.

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