Opinion: CA Changes, Roberts' Appointment Signal New Channel Day

If you needed evidence that CA is serious about making deeper inroads into the channel, then you got it in the form of a shakeup that amounts to a channel big bang of sorts.

CA hired channel superstar David Roberts as vice president of channel strategy for its storage group and moved staunch channel advocate Adam Famularo into a new cloud role.

Both personnel changes signal a new channel day for the software giant that has long had big channel ambitions that have never quite materialized fully.

Ultimately the CA channel shakeup is a sign that CA is going to play a bigger role with the channel in the critical, fast growing MSPs (Managed Service Providers) and cloud solution provider segments.

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CA said as much in the formal communication of the changes from new general manager of the channel storage business Mike Crest.

"CA Technologies understands that you are adopting new models and new technologies to grow your revenue and win the business of end customers who are themselves facing evolving business challenges," wrote Crest, a 12-year CA veteran, in a message to partners. "Our team is 100 percent committed to helping you do that. For some of you, this means building your MSP or recurring revenue business. For others, it means putting a new twist on your go-to-market strategies as VARs, LARs or systems integrators."

"But however you decide to respond to the new direction of technology markets, CA Technologies is committed to a channel-focused sales model designed to provide you with the things you need to grow your pipeline, close more deals, maintain healthy profit margins and keep your customers happy over time," added Crest, who was previously senior vice president and general manager for CA's Northern U.S. area.

All of the changes should result in a more aggressive channel charge from CA. But Roberts' appointment in the storage business is a signal that CA wants a bigger piece of the storage pie with a bullseye on rival Symantec's storage business.

Next: A Channel Shock To The System

Roberts amounts to a channel shock to the system for CA. He is one of the channel chief veterans that can cause partners to make big channel bets with his move to a company.

Roberts engineered high profile channel charnes at both Websense and McAfee, as vice president of channel strategy. His track record at both Websense and McAfee resulted in changes that led to a dramatic increase in channel sales.

At WebSense, where he spent nearly fours before being pushed aside in a channel shakeup in February, Roberts engineered a massive sales shakeup that included a move to two-tier distribution that ultimately led to a 50 percent incremental increase in sales in North America.

At McAfee, Roberts oversaw a channel assault that led to a 30 percent increase in North American sales. Under Roberts, McAfee channel ranks increased from 400 to 2,750 partners.

Roberts is the kind of channel executive that brings big changes aimed at growing channel share. He is already busy evaluating the CA storage channel landscape, including providing partners with with additional services opportunities.

Roberts sees partners facing economic pressure with operational costs on the rise.

"We can help partners develop services strategies outside of just a pure time and materials business model and develop recurring revenue streams from a services standpoint and the ability to drive that recurring revenue without deploying SEs (System Engineers) is going to be key to being successful," he said.

Roberts said he is looking forward to driving the CA organization to think more about "the partner winning which I think is really important."

That focus on the partner winning in a new cloud services era may be the biggest bang from the CA channel charge.

The channel changes are a sign that CA CEO Bill McCracken, a 36-year IBM veteran who took the helm of the company in January, is putting his channel imprint on the $4.2 billion software giant.

McCracken is clearly pushing his team to make bigger bets on the channel. That's good news for CA, its partners, customers and bad news for rivals like Symantec, EMC, IBM and CommVault.