CRN Exclusive: Rodney Foreman, Formerly IBM's VP Of Cloud Channel Sales, Tapped To Lead Informatica's Channel Efforts

Rodney Foreman, a 20-year IBM veteran who ran a number of Big Blue's channel sales divisions over the years, has left the technology giant, he told CRN, to take the helm of Informatica’s channel.

Foreman, who started working last week as Informatica's channel chief, last held the position of IBM's vice president of cloud channel sales, the Armonk, N.Y.-based company's largest software channel.

As Informatica's senior vice president for partner ecosystems, Foreman said he will refocus the data integration powerhouse, based in Redwood City, Calif., on an emerging channel strategy designed to expand the number of VARs in the program and drive more business through indirect partners.

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"The challenge [Informatica] had from a channel perspective is they just really haven’t put anything behind their programs, incentives, marketing, etcetera, to grow their channel business," Foreman told CRN. "It’s just their culture has been a direct sales culture."

But Informatica’s new CEO, Anil Chakravarthy, elevated to the top position in January, understands that the company needs at least 40 percent of its business going through the channel to achieve the growth he's hoping to see, Foreman told CRN.

"My role is to grow the channel business, both from existing partners and to recruit new partners," Foreman said. "And we’ve got a good channel business with the [systems integrators], all the global systems integrators love their products. But from a reseller perspective, we need a stronger network of partners that we don’t have."

Foreman held several senior positions at IBM over the last two decades, most of which, in recent years, focused on supporting Big Blue's channel. In those roles he's made a strong impression on a number of large IBM partners.

Darrin Nelson, vice president of software sales at Sirius Computer Solutions, based in San Antonio, Tex., told CRN that Foreman was a channel leader who embraced innovation and transformation.

Nelson, who turned Sirius into one of IBM's largest software resellers, and before that substantially grew the practice of another IBM-aligned systems integrator, said of Foreman: "Rodney was one of those guys that had a vision and believed in my business and what I needed to accomplish, and frankly helped me break down barriers both within IBM and my company."

"We were able to structure new programs and new offerings to accelerate the transformation at Sirius, build solution areas and extend practices that Sirius didn’t have as a legacy," Nelson told CRN.

Foreman was always willing to be an advocate for program changes the channel wanted to see, according to Nelson.

"He’s a vision guy. He’s not afraid to help lead a transformation," Nelson said. "If there’s a good business case, or a clear path from where we are to where we collectively want to go, he’s willing to help fight and help lead the transformation."

Nelson said that, based on his experiences working with IBM over the years, he essentially breaks down IBM's channel leaders into two fundamental camps.

Some he associates with the status quo, Nelson said. They "do a great job of executing what has been done previously." Then there are others, like Foreman, "willing to embrace change and innovate."

"Rodney was a leader who enabled us to drive change within our own company," Nelson said.

Foreman told CRN he believes Informatica doesn’t have enough partners to represent the portfolio of products the company offers and the markets it reaches.

"So I’m looking forward to growing the partner network, improving the channel program, putting incentives in place so that when partners reach certain tiers, certain levels of revenue, they accelerate revenue growth," Foreman said.

Another recent defection from IBM to Informatica generated some controversy.

Lou Attanasio headed global sales for IBM’s hybrid cloud division until April, when he accepted the position of Informatica's executive vice president and chief revenue officer.

IBM sued Attanasio, who had worked there for more than 25 years, claiming he stole proprietary IP and violated a non-compete agreement. The matter has been resolved, according to people familiar with the case.

Informatica was, in many ways, the original big data company, providing data ETL (extract, transform and load) software that businesses used to move huge volumes of data between systems, such as data in transactional systems to data warehouses for analysis.

Informatica was taken private in August 2015 in a $5.3 billion deal in which the company was acquired by the Permira Funds and the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board, with Microsoft and also buying minority stakes in the company.