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CRN Exclusive: IGEL Making Big Investment In Channel, Looks To Capitalize On New Thin-Client Opportunities

New IGEL CEO Jed Ayres, who has worked in the channel for years, is doubling down on a program to make the company's partners a profitable part of its go-to-market capabilities.

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Thin-client technology developer IGEL is making significant updates to its channel program aimed at getting partners to invest in a market it says has significant upside as the desktop and mobile device business evolves.

The new three-tier channel program, along with some significant new partner benefits, should help energize Igel's channel, which may not have always felt close to the vendor, said Jed Ayres, president and CEO of IGEL North America, the San Francisco-based part of Germany-based Igel.

Until now, IGEL has taken a very "German" approach to the market, said Ayres, who has been in his role for five months.

[Related: Exclusive: Former AppSense SVP Ayres Named U.S. CEO For Thin-Client Superpower IGEL, Partners Call It A Channel Game-Changer]

"Our approach has been one size fits all," he said. "They considered everybody in the program equal and provided no market development funds or deal protection. So our new program is a major breakthrough. We're making a lot of investment in our partners. This is a program more in line with a software company than a hardware company."

IGEL's new program has three levels, starting with the reseller level that provides up to a 15 percent partner discount on products, depending on the particular product, said Ayres, who in the past worked the channel from the solution provider side.

At the Authorized Igel Partner, or AIP, level, partners also receive a 21 percent discount off the manufacturer's suggested retail price for registered deals, up to $500 worth of not-for-resale demo products, three free pre-release product briefings, and qualified sales leads.

At the higher Platinum level, the deal registration discount rises to 26 percent, as well as an additional 5 percent off list price as a one-time payment for registering a deal, Ayres told CRN. It also offer Platinum partners a 4 percent accrual of marketing funds, he said.

Under IGEL's deal registration program, a partner that loses a deal that has been registered by IGEL is still paid by the vendor, Ayres said.

"If you lose the deal, we're still going to pay your margin," he said. "It's a nice insurance policy for the partner."

In addition to partner benefits, Igel has hired a new inside sales team of six people dedicated to looking for new deals the company can pass to its Platinum partners, Ayres said. "We've put aside a lot of money on this," he said. "We'll also do exclusive marketing events for those partners."


IGEL's new channel program has enough "meat" on it to work for a long time, said Mike Strohl, CEO of Entisys360, a Concord, Calif.-based solution provider and Igel channel partner.

Entisys360 has worked with Igel for several years, but has stepped up its business with the vendor since Ayres took over as Igel CEO, Strohl told CRN.

"Igel's software stack is probably the best out there, but it's not as well-known in the U.S. as other brands are," he said. "Jed hasn't been in his role for long. But he has put together a valid business plan. And when he talks the channel, he knows more about it than most people."

Ayres doesn't need to convince Entisys360 that Igel understands the channel, Strohl said. "What he needs to do, and he's doing it, is put the programs in place to show the value of Igel and drive business through us and to us," he said.

Igel's investment in its partner community comes as the vendor sees the thin-client market going through a transition period, Ayres said. For instance, he said, while the thin-client market has had its ups and downs, it is one that trends on big refreshes, such as 2014's end-of-life for Windows XP.

"When something this big happens, and customers look at their environment and their security, we see a surge in orders," he said. "We're pretty bullish on this market. When people look at desktop-as-a-service or device-as-a-service, we see a renaissance."

The thin-client market is actually bigger than most people believe, Ayres said.

In addition to thin-client hardware, Igel sells a lot of convergence software to customers looking to repurpose existing desktop PCs or competitors' thin-client devices to the IGEL OS, he said. "But that part of the business is invisible to IDC and other analysts because the hardware was already sold in the past," he said.

While many solution providers have worked from the data center and out to focus on virtual desktop infrastructure solutions, many, including Entisys360, have left the endpoints out of the conversation, Strohl said.

The bring-your-own-device trend has also complicated the endpoint part of the market as it is causing many customers to get out of selecting their employees' local devices, he said.

"But today, companies are moving more of their business to the cloud, and more and more clients are having conversations with us regarding Citrix," he said. "If a business is running all on-premises, thin clients are great because there are no bring-your-own-device issues. And if customers are moving to the cloud and security is a concern, thin clients have even more value."

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