Almost two years after hyper-converged startup ZeroStack launched its first formal channel, the company has applied insight gleaned from working with partners to introduce a new program Tuesday more focused on sales enablement.
What ZeroStack saw over the last 18 months, once it reached about 10 partners in its program, was a lot of those VARs were getting stuck—not with the technology, which is designed to simplify cloud deployment, but with how to go about selling the solution, Steve Garrison, ZeroStack's vice president of marketing, told CRN.
Traditional resellers with legacy "box-shipping" businesses wanted to leverage ZeroStack, an OpenStack-based appliance, to jump into the MSP market. But some realized they weren't ready to win customers, Garrison said.
"We think we've cracked the nut on how to help partners shift from a box-shipping business to managing software," Garrison said.
ZeroStack rolled out the Cloud Innovation Partner Program, which focuses the vendor on working with its channel to develop a business model for delivering services, and mastering the sales process that model demands.
"We can help them look at the footprint, size of racks, data center costs, software from us, hardware they're already buying, and help them understand their profitability model," Garrison told CRN.
It starts with working closely with new partners to help them sign and on-board their first two customers.
"Let's do some demand gen together, make sure we sell those racks we just helped you build," he said.
ZeroStack ships a cloud appliance, but it's managed through a Software-as-a-Service portal that delivers a public cloud experience to users, no matter where the hardware resides.
"A lot of VARs want to transition to being a VAR plus MSP. They are using ZeroStack to set up MSP services," Garrison said. "We're enabling the VAR to broaden their business, and take on more variance of the service delivery."
For many of those VARs making the transition, hosting multi-tenant environments was an entirely new challenge, he said.
"We saw an opportunity to come in as a coach and facilitator," Garrison told CRN.
One of the first three partners signed into the Cloud Innovation program was Morris Technology Partners.
Lou D'Angeli, CIO of the Whippany, N.J.-based solution provider, told CRN he turned to ZeroStack to grow an MSP practice delivering Backup-as-a-Service, cloud storage and multi-tenant Infrastructure-as-a-Service to small businesses looking for an alternative to the hyper-scale cloud providers.
"It really gives us the ability to show our customers 20 [percent] to 40 percent ROI over a three-year time frame over AWS or [Microsoft] Azure," D'Angeli said. "It's one flat pricing, but really gives that true public cloud experience, letting the customer manage it for themselves."
Customers love the ability to spin up virtual machines on their own, through the SaaS portal, without incurring any licensing costs, he added.
The Morris Technology rep working with ZeroStack is enthusiastic new program changes will help further develop that business.
"Best thing they can do is be an extension of our sales force, help us sell the product with combined campaign blitzes, co-hosted events, help us do joint marketing, sales, host lunch-and-learns, help show what we're seeing as far as the ROI," D'Angeli said.
"Be a part of our organization and show us you truly care about the partners," he said.