LeftHand Aims Channel Push At Midrange IP-SAN Market

The Boulder, Colo.-based company, which in 2004 doubled its North American solution provider base to more than 100 partners, wants to expand that base even further this year by recruiting VARs with specific vertical practices, including government, education and health care, said Gina Batali-Brooks, channel marketing manager.

Batali-Brooks said her company focuses exclusively on the channel. "We recognized early on that this is our only route to market," she said.

With the new LeftHand Advantage Partner Program, the company is bringing out tools such as demonstration videos, Web presentations and Web-based lead tracking, all of which are customized specifically for its individual solution providers, Batali-Brooks said.

"We don't want to tell our channel partners, 'Here's the money, go get customers,' " she said. "We know they can't all develop tools like this on their own. Also, many partners don't like to use vendor tools because they feel they might lose control. We build in a comfort level for them."

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In addition to the new tools, LeftHand has recently reorganized its channel management team so that instead of regional managers, the company relies on channel managers focused on specific products, said Batali-Brooks. They are supported by a telemarketing team that generates leads for partners to the tune of about 20 percent of the vendor's revenue, she said.

LeftHand now works with several types of partners, including agents looking for a cut of a deal closed by the vendor, solution providers that sell the product but depend on the vendor for services, and those that can get certified for the full range of services. "We prefer our partners to handle professional services as much as possible," Batali-Brooks said.

Solution providers can typically get a 20 percent to 30 percent margin when reselling LeftHand technology, said Batali-Brooks. To improve those margins, the company has just streamlined its deal-registration program to make the process move faster, she said.

Also new is sales training, certification and training on specific topics such as disaster recovery. All that training can be done on-site. The company is also implementing a demo program to give partners a discount on a 2-Tbyte hardware/software bundle with on-site certification training, she said.

Tom Major, chief strategy officer at LeftHand, said his company offers the hardware and software to build IP-based SANs with capacities ranging from 2 Tbytes to 11 Tbytes. The hardware and software are also available separately for solution providers or OEMs looking to implement their own technology, he said.