EqualLogic Taps Microsoft Exec To Head Channels; Recruiting Networking VARs

Officials of the Nashua, N.H.-based vendor of iSCSI SAN solutions said that Bob Skelley was hired as vice president of channel development after a long career at Microsoft where he managed OEM, system builder, distributor and solution provider business, most recently as that company's director of U.S. distribution and VAR channels.

For Skelley, joining EqualLogic was a way to help a relatively new company build a strong channel. "EqualLogic is still in the early stages of its product lifecycle," he said. "We already have 200 partners [in the United States], but it's still early. That's an opportunity for me to add to the channel from the ground up."

About 80 percent of the vendor's business already comes from the channel, with the remainder going direct because of legacy relationships or lack of channel coverage in certain geographies, said Skelley.

While EqualLogic is courting solution providers with strong storage experience looking to bring iSCSI to their customer base, the company is focusing its recruitment efforts on traditional Microsoft solution providers, Skelley said.

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iSCSI storage allows storage capacity to be accessed by multiple users over standard LANs as if it was direct-attached SCSI storage. Unlike the more expensive and complex Fibre Channel storage networks, iSCSI-based storage networks can typically be configured by technicians with LAN experience.

"Historically, storage at the least requires specialized skill sets," he said. "But our products are so easy to deploy while offering enterprise-class features, and so solution providers really don't need specialized skills. With iSCSI, for the first time VARs can build a storage infrastructure using their current networking skill sets. So we're reaching out to VARs who haven't traditionally been storage resellers, and giving them the opportunity to engage in this business."

The vendor has already put a channel program in place which offers partners web-based, on-site, and remote training, as well as a deal registration program under which solution providers can get margins of up to 30 percent. The company is also working with partners to do co-marketing and demand generation programs, including end-user road shows, said Skelley.

On Thursday, EqualLogic plans to hold the first of what it expects to become a series of quarterly roundtable sessions with solution providers, and is in the process of setting up a VAR advisory council, Skelley said. "It sounds cliche, but I want to build a world-class partner program," he said.