CRN Exclusive: AppViewX Launches First-Ever Partner Program, Hires F5's Former Channel Chief To Lead Revamped Partner Charge

AppViewX is shifting all of its direct accounts to channel partners as the application-centric network specialist launches its first-ever formal partner program. The program is called Partner+ and AppViewX has hired former F5 Networks channel chief Keith McManigal to lead the way.

"We're taking our direct accounts and mapping them to our partners," said McManigal, vice president of channel sales at AppViewX, in an interview with CRN. "We did about 60 percent of our business through partners and, next year, it's going to be 100 percent. That's the way we're going from our CEO all the way through the entire organization."

Key components of Partner+ includes a guaranteed margin program, access to a dedicated inside channel team for demand generation, upfront market development funds (MDF) based on revenue, a partner portal, rebates, product training and technical support.

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The Seattle-based data center provider takes a vendor-agnostic and annual subscription approach to its solutions with a focus around services. Protecting partner margin is central to AppViewX's new program, according to McManigal.

He said vendors typically take top line revenue from a solution providers deal, which can significantly hinder a partner's ability to become profitable.

"A lot of other vendors will go, 'Alright, we'll just take $10,000 off. Hey partners, take $10,000 off [the deal].' Well that's $10,000 of profit to the partner which is a big deal," said McManigal. "What we've done is say, 'Hey if we're going to give discounts, we're still going to protect our partners from a margin perspective.' The margin they earn is variable based on the value that they add to the sale … So we want to make it so that the partners know that if they invest, they're going to make 'X' dollars of margin and it's to their benefit to try to keep the price as high as possible so they can get the most dollars in."

Mike Wintrode, chief technology officer at Baltimore, M.d.-based solution provider ReliaSource, who partners with AppViewX, said everything inside Partner+ is clearly defined and the margin guarantee will boost partner's ability to map out profitability which is "refreshing."

"You know that your margins are not going to get eroded," said Wintrode. "We've all been part of different sales where there're negotiations that you may or may not be privy to as a partner that is going into the pricing and then basically they're chomping your margin off – then you kind of have to take what's left. Where [Partner+] is defined, it's structured."

Wintrode said AppViewX's program is on the leading edge when it comes to enabling channel partners to capture recurring revenues and high margins, while selling vendor-agnostic solutions.

"The margins are defined in a way to encourage you to stay engaged with an account and to grow it – it's not a one-and-done sale," said Wintrode. "They're filling in a niche that hasn't really been filled because they have a vendor agnostic-approach that is different from a lot of other providers out there … Everybody's got their point solutions that are vendor-specific, whereas AppViewX comes in and delivers a vendor-agnostic, management and automation platform. It's a massive opportunity for them."

AppViewX provides management, automation and orchestration solutions, which includes its flagship AppViewX Platform that delivers network and application services in traditional and greenfield data centers.

Partner+ has three partner levels: Gold, Silver and Bronze. The vendor says it will work closely with partners to design demand-generation custom solutions rather than prescribe a one-size-fits-all solution.

McManigal said, unlike other vendors he's worked for, AppViewX is training their inside sales team on the value of the channel.

"A lot of the sales teams go, 'All the partners are doing is slowing the sales cycle down.' They don't understand the value that can be brought to the table," said McManigal. "Most people don't take the time to educate their sales people on the value of the channel and the value that partners can bring to the customer throughout the lifecycle of the solution. For me, I'm spending as much time talking to our channel partners about enablement and education as I am doing the exact same thing with our sales teams."

McManigal is a 25-year industry veteran who previously worked as F5's vice president of channel sales for the Americas. He also spent over a decade at Cisco with his last role in 2011 being director of Business Development. McManigal is not the only F5 and Cisco veteran to join the vendor in 2016, as F5's former CEO Manuel Rivelo became AppViewX's CEO earlier this year.

Wintrode said the hiring of McManigal and the launch of a formal partner program provides that AppViewX is betting heavily on its channel.

"It's significant that they've hired Keith. His experience working for F5 and others really translates well and the structure of his program really speaks to his leadership in the channel partner world and where his thinking is at," said Wintrode. "It really is an opportunity for partners right now to be successful and to take advantage of the way the program is structured and to drive some significant margins into your pocket."