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Actian Expands Partner Program, Looks To Recruit Solutions- And Services-Focused Partners

The big data software vendor is transitioning to hybrid and cloud software, led by its Actian Avalanche cloud data warehouse, and is taking a more solutions-based approach to its go-to-market efforts.

Big data management software vendor Actian has launched a new, more comprehensive partner program as it looks to expand its channel efforts beyond its traditional OEM partners to recruit resellers, value-added distributors and systems integrator partners.

The move comes as Actian has expanded its product portfolio to include more hybrid and cloud products and services, a lineup that the company said requires channel partners who can build solutions and develop services around the Actian offerings—especially the company’s Actian Avalanche cloud data warehouse that debuted in March.

“That shift to the cloud is what really initiated the need to look at our partner efforts,” said Marc Potter, who was named Actian’s chief revenue officer in May and has led the efforts to expand the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company’s channel efforts. “It wasn’t really sufficient for a world where everyone is moving to the cloud,” he said in an interview with CRN.

[Related: The Big Data 100 2019]

Actian’s lineup includes a number of data management, data integration and data analytics products, including several legacy products such as the Ingres relational database (redeveloped as a hybrid database called Actian X for operational analytics) and the Versant object-oriented database (redeveloped as Actian NoSQL Object Database).

About 20 OEM and technology partners that build those products into their own software have been the focus of Actian’s channel efforts until now. OEM channel sales accounted for about 30 percent of the company’s total revenue, Potter said, with about two-thirds of the company’s revenue coming from direct sales.

With new products like Actian Avalanche and the DataCloud hybrid data integration platform, Actian realized it needed to step up its channel efforts.

“We’ve been largely a product-centric, OEM-focused, direct [sales] company, but we’re making a shift,” Potter said. “Services and cloud, that’s now our focus.”

The goal now is to recruit solution providers, strategic service providers and systems integrators who can develop business-driven solutions and services around Actian’s offerings—services, for example, to help businesses adopt cloud computing—including redeveloping their applications and moving their data to cloud platforms, according to Potter. Using Actian’s products to develop solutions for specific vertical industries would be another example.

“I’m looking for partners who can deliver the services part of it,” Potter said.

Potter would like to increase Actian’s channel-led sales “to grow to north of 50 percent”—much of which he expects to be net-new business.

Goldstar Software, a Flossmoor, Ill.-based software distributor and VAR, has long worked with the Actian Zen database, developing software products based on the Zen environment and providing installation, configuration, optimization and troubleshooting services around Actian’s database products.

“In the past we were limited to the Zen database environment,” said Goldstar President Bill Bach in an email to CRN. “But this new [partner] program is going to provide some traction in the other Actian products, including both the analytics database as well as the data integration technologies.”

Actian’s previous partner program was very “deal-specific,” Potter said, handling different partners and products on a more ad hoc basis. The new Actian Partner Program will be more standardized and more transparent, the CRO said.

The new program will also provide services and capabilities that were missing from Actian’s earlier program. Those include a partner portal, deal registration, lead referrals, and joint go-to-market initiatives and market development funds. The new program also will provide more in partner enablement, support, training and certification.

“[The program] lacked many of the key incentives you would need for more services-centric systems integrators and solution providers,” Potter said.

The new program includes three tiers (plus a tier for distributors) with competitive discounts and a performance-based structure with clear expectations and requirements for partners at each level, according to the company. Through the end of 2019 Actian is also doubling to 20 percent the usual 10 percent incentive it offers partners who provide sales referrals.

“The goal is to make it really easy to work with Actian,” Potter said.

“I am really looking forward to the training and related certifications covering the [Actian] products that we don’t currently handle, as well as the ability to work with some of these products in-house in a test environment to see how we can apply them to our customers’ needs,” said Bach.

“The ability to register a deal to protect [a] sale is even more meaningful for higher-priced solutions where the sales cycles can be long and drawn out,” he added.

Actian will work with some partners to jointly develop intellectual property and build solutions and is now, for example, working with a systems integrator to develop an IoT analytics solution, Potter said.

Potter also expects that some of Actian’s current partners will expand the range of Actian products they work with. The OEM channel will continue and existing partners will be grandfathered for a year before having to meet the new program’s requirements.

Actian was acquired by IT services giant HCL Technologies and Sumeru Equity Partners in April 2018 for $330 million.

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