Veeam’s Kevin Rooney Wins 2020 Channel Madness Championship

Veeam’s Kevin Rooney outlasted a field of 32 of the industry's top channel executives to win the 2020 CRN Channel Madness Tournament of Chiefs.

Third time's the charm for Veeam Software’s Kevin Rooney, who Thursday was crowned the winner of the 2020 CRN Channel Madness Tournament of Chiefs.

Rooney, who has since 2016 served as vice president of Americas channel at the Baar, Switzerland-based data protection and management software developer, has competed in the tournament since 2018, but this year garnered more than enough support from peers and partners to take the championship.

As many fans across the country were holed up at home and looking for a distraction from the coronavirus outbreak, the sixth annual tournament kicked off March 12. Thirty-two of the industry's top channel chiefs vied for votes from CRN readers, ending with Rooney being crowned the winner after his first appearance in the championship match.

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The tournament’s final round turned out to be a close one. Rooney won the Channel Madness championship matchup against Scott Lannum, vice president and general manager of Americas commercial channel sales at HP Inc., with 51 percent of the vote.

Rooney told CRN the win was less for him and more for Veeam as a whole.

"I am really proud of the company I work for," he said. "Partner support of Veeam is a testament to the work we put into our channel. Us finishing first is a reflection of the value Veeam puts in our partnerships. And we will continue to focus on our partnerships. This shows that our partners see us at the top of the heap."

Veeam already has a 100 percent channel focus and expects to lean on its channel as it enters a new phase of growth. The company, which was acquired by private equity firm Insight Partners in a $5 billion deal that closed in March, is preparing to move its headquarters to the U.S. to be closer to the center of the hyperscaler cloud industry. Veeam plans to expand heavily into data management.

It will do so with a continued commitment to work with partners in every segment of the market, Rooney said.

"No account is too big, no account is too small," he said. "The fact we are consistent, [and always] channel-focused, resonates with customers."

Running the channel team for Veeam is a big job, and Rooney's unique openness and approach to the channel has served the company well, said Justin Pippy, chief revenue officer at All Lines Technology, a Warrendale, Pa.-based solution provider and Veeam channel partner.

"Veeam has thousands of channel partners, but Rooney is always open for suggestions, and for lending help whenever its needed," Pippy said. "But just as important is his consistency. There are always ups and downs. But he stands by to help, and his team are all very, very good people. He's very honest, and very proactive. He makes our jobs easier. And he makes it easier for us to sell Veeam solutions."

Mike Vencel, president at Comport Technology Solutions, a Ramsey, N.J.-based solution provider and Veeam MSP and cloud services provider, told CRN that Rooney has always been on the front line for partners.

Vencel, who sat on Veeam's Partner Advisory Council for a number of years, said Rooney really absorbs feedback from solution providers to build the kind of support that makes partners successful for the company.

"[Rooney]'s a great guy, and a real advocate for the channel," he said. "He has garnered a lot of respect from the partner community. When I look at Veeam's cloud services provider business relative to that of other software OEMs, I see Veeam is very early in embracing partners and leveraging partners to build its business. Veeam is really ahead of the curve in delivering a recurring business model."

Another executive garnering tremendous support throughout the Channel Madness tournament was HP’s Lannum, Rooney’s rival in the final round.

Lannum, a 12-year veteran of HP who was named its North America channel chief in November, advanced to the championship round in his first appearance in CRN's Channel Madness tournament.

The strong showing is indicative of the "overall HP togetherness" that the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company is experiencing right now, even amid a number of "headwinds" that have affected the company, Lannum said.

Along with the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic—and its resulting shelter-in-place orders in HP’s home state of California and elsewhere across the U.S.—the company has also had to respond to the worsening Intel CPU shortage and, since November, Xerox's hostile takeover bid, which Xerox abandoned this week.

"I think the way that that our leadership team has responded to all of that, and the way they communicate to our team, has just created that bond and that sense of pride of working for HP," Lannum said.

And HP has handled these situations without taking its focus off partners and customers, or off the changes that the company is driving around the expansion of opportunities for recurring revenue, such as managed print services and Device as a Service, Lannum said.

HP also expects continued opportunities for both its personal systems and printer portfolios with the increased demand for work-from-home deployments—which Lannum said will likely continue beyond the current wave caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

At Waltham, Mass.-based solution provider NWN, CEO Jim Sullivan said that one sign of Lannum and HP's commitment to supporting partners is a recent move to have HP's internal sales teams sell NWN's Device-as-a-Service offering.

"They've got a lot of resources on us, a lot of focus on us, so we're very happy," Sullivan said. "HP has been an outstanding long-term partner for us."

Looking ahead, HP is readying updates to its partner program that will bring greater simplification for solution providers, he said. "That should help reduce the amount of workload on our partners, and get them paid faster as well," Lannum said.