CRN Exclusive: Turbonomic SVP Jennifer Heard Looks To The Channel As 'Force Multiplier'

Every day that solution providers wait to bring Turbonomic into their portfolio of products and services is a day they're losing money.

That's what Jennifer Heard, the 22-year Microsoft sales veteran who was just named Turbonomic's channel chief, said about her new employer's cloud automation platform.

"Every day they wait, it's millions of dollars they could've put in their pockets and their customers' pockets," Heard said in an exclusive interview with CRN.

Heard said she's certain the channel is the only way to grow a start-up like Turbonomic as quickly as its potential will allow. "The channel is the force multiplier of the sales force, and if you get the right channel, your brand and awareness can get out there 100 times faster than you would ever be able to do by yourself," she said.

"I saw that time and time again at Microsoft," Heard added. "You bring a new product to market, and the first place you go is to the channel so they can get in front of their customers so they can accelerate the story and demonstrate the capabilities."

[Related: New Turbonomic Channel Chief On Partner Training, Solving The Pain Points Microsoft, VMware And IBM Can't]

Hiring Heard is part of Turbonomic's effort to operate as a channel-first vendor. The company has about 250 partners and did about $40 million in revenue through the channel last year on more than 900 partner transactions. Ten of the company's partners each did more than $1 million in Turbonomics business last year.

Getting partners onboard is of particular importance for Turbonomic, which was founded in 2010 and has developed a software platform for hybrid cloud environments that automatically matches application demand with infrastructure supply in real time, allowing those environments to manage themselves.

That means customers considering buying more data center capacity may be able to optimize with Turbonomic, saving millions, Heard said.

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"You've got to have some sort of investment on both sides," said Rene van den Bedem, practice manager at RoundTower, a Cincinnati solution provider that has developed a reference architecture with Turbonomic. "I got Turbonomic to invest to bring their top training guys to us, and 20 people went through a one-week training and certification program. That's basically how you grow the business. You have to invest in each other."

He added that RoundTower's business with Turbonomic is poised for 20 percent growth because Turbonomic has shown a willingness to invest in the relationship. "I want RoundTower to be the go-to partner for complicated Turbonomic designs and installs," he said. "That's where I'm trying to position RoundTower. Where you want to bring us in is where you need an enterprise architect. We're doing professional services for Turbonomic too. Turbonomic can just hand off implementations to us under the Turbonomic umbrella."

Heard said it is vitally important for partners to get trained on Turbonomic, like RoundTower has. Van den Bedem said that training is more than just learning a new platform, it's unlearning the old ways of selling IT.

"It's vendor agnostic," van den Bedem said. "That means we care that the business requirements are being met and delivering efficient, risk-free solutions. That pivot comes with a lot of problems for sales reps who have built their career on selling boxes, and there's an education process that's going on internally at RoundTower now."

So far, Turbonomic has gained the most traction in private data centers, where the software can be installed and within 48 hours produce a detailed report that shows customers where they can gain immediate performance advantages and better efficiency, right down to heating and cooling.

Customers get a full inventory of what's happening in their environment, and Turbonomic can make recommendations for which applications and workloads can, or should, be moved to the cloud.

"Partners are getting that information and initiating the conversation with customers about the journey to the cloud," said Sean Finnegan, Turbonomic's vice president of channel sales. "It's a lot easier than it was before."

For Heard, the speed with which the Turbonomic platform can deliver savings and efficiencies is one of its key selling points, she said. The platform, she said, can generate 30 percent return on investment in 30 days.

"[Partners] are able to demonstrate ROI immediately by saving the customer money from overprovisioning," Heard said. "They're getting ready to buy more VMs. Well, they didn't need them. [The partner can say], 'Save $2 million right now. Don't buy another server because you've already got capacity you're not even using.'"

The days of IT staff being able to do the job are over, Heard said. "You can't do it with humans anymore. There's too much coming at them," she said. "There's just no way. Monitoring tools are great, but they're after-the-fact. So, by the time you go to fix it, it's changed again. We need real-time servicing of those applications, and the supply and demand is only served with Turbonomic. Nobody else can do this."