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New Curvature CEO Placing Bets On More 'Partner, Channel-Centric' Strategies

Peter Weber, named as CEO of the newly combined Curvature and SMS, tells CRN many of the core elements of an indirect strategy are in place but it's about more than just 'knocking on the door of partners.'

Solution providers can expect third-party maintenance provider Curvature to adopt a more channel-oriented sales strategy following its merger with SMS, newly appointed CEO Peter Weber told CRN.

Weber, named this week as the combined company's new CEO, said his background in managed, cloud and data center services at SevenSpace (acquired by Sun Microsystems) and later Carpathia (acquired by QTS) underscore the indirect selling opportunities Curvature sees in those areas. Resellers, systems integrators, SaaS providers, IT outsourcers and distributors all present potential avenues for expanded partnership.

"We haven't gotten to it yet, but now we're getting to more partner, channel-focused strategies. That's probably one of my areas of particular strength," said Weber. "I believe in it."

[Related: Curvature Taps Former Carpathia, SevenSpace Exec Peter Weber As New CEO ]

Partners that recognize customer demand for offerings Curvature, No. 85 on the 2017 CRN Solution Provider 500, provides but lack the ability to deliver them at a broader scale will be a significant priority, he said.

"The core of that is basic. If we have categories of partners whose customers need and care about what we do, invest in that partner. Or if that category of partner isn't prepared and doesn't want to invest in that customer, then that's a great fit for us," said Weber.

Weber came aboard as executive chairman of the Curvature board of directors shortly after the SMS deal closed in late February. The agreement was supported by $57 billion private equity firm Partners Group, majority owner of the $545 million combined company according to a previous CRN report.

With that financial backing, the resources Curvature and SMS now share and their global market presence, Weber sees now as an ideal time for the company to "double down" on enhancing its sales muscle through the channel.

The core elements of an indirect selling program are already in place, he said, particularly on the front end. Curvature has a sales and marketing team of more than 400 employees and anticipates it will add 100 new positions in the next 12 months. Channel partner resources and support, particularly around marketing, is where Weber expects much of the investment to go.

"It's not just having somebody knocking on the door of partners. There's implications once you establish a partnership," he said. "Channel marketing – you've got to get pricing together, collaborative marketing together. You're maybe even selling with each other and going to have pipeline together. There's a lot on the back end that needs to be invested in."

The leadership change at Curvature follows a global rebranding that company unveiled in July. The IT asset life-cycle service provider, which has since moved its global headquarters to Charlotte, N.C., told CRN at the time that it would make significant investments in branding and digital marketing amid a push to expand its international foothold.

Weber, who helped oversee the integrations of SevenSpace and Carpathia into their parent companies, said that while the differing product sets, geographic areas of operation and even cultures at Curvature and SMS have created their challenges, the plan is to have both companies and their 2,000-plus employees fully integrated in practice heading into 2018.

Legacy Curvature specialized in secondary hardware provider and third-party maintenance, with 85 percent of its business coming from Cisco equipment, according to a Gartner market guide for data center and network third-party maintenance. SMS was a third-party maintainer that collected about 75 percent of its revenue from data center and network maintenance, close to half of which was HP- or IBM-related.

The merger solidified the combined company as the largest secondary hardware and third-party maintenance provider in the market, according to Gartner, and Weber sees tremendous potential for Curvature to build upon that momentum – in part because of cloud adoption. Businesses need help navigating their investments in legacy data centers and extending the life cycles of IT assets, he said.

"We're very much focused on firming up our rightful spot as the leader in this growing industry," Weber said. "We're much bigger than everybody else, which means we have more money to invest. We have a massive $60 billion private equity firm behind us. It's early in their investment cycle, so there's a lot of money to invest in products, sales, marketing and the phenomenal delivery of customer service."

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