UniTrends Dropping Direct Sales, Expanding Channel


As part of the expansion, the company brought in a new worldwide channel manager, Eric Williams.

UniTrends has reorganized to become a partner-only organization, as opposed to the past when about 35 percent of sales went direct, Williams said. "We want to go through the channel," he said. "We don't have a direct-sales force, and we don't want one."

As part of the move, the company has simplified its business, including the way it bundles its software. Williams said solution providers merely have to select the host platform, count the number of clients and acquire a single module for all databases, and they will get a single bundle of software with fixed price per tape cartridge determined by whether a tape library has more or less than 500 cartridges. "You don't have to be a Ph.D. to read our price list," he said.

While typical market development funds run about 2 percent, UniTrends is offering 3 percent, as well as cash spiffs to solution providers' salespeople, Williams said.

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UniTrends will pass all leads to its channel partners, and by late this month expects to have a number of marketing specialists working on developing leads. The company has also put an opportunity registration program in place, Williams said.

Current plans call for the company to recruit about 100 solution providers in the next six months, 75 of which will be in the United States, with that number expanding thereafter. The company will work direct with such partners, Williams said.

"After the dust settles, and we have them trained, we'll need to see what parts of the country we can expand in," Williams said. "We want a limited number in a specific area so we can protect their business. We don't want backorders or other growing pains."

VeriStor, a storage solution provider formed late last year in Atlanta, has been working with UniTrends for a couple of months, and likes what it sees so far, said Steve Bishop, director of technology for the VAR.

Bishop said the price point and simplicity of UniTrends' products, combined with what he termed a "real channel program" the vendor is implementing, is a plus for a solution provider trying to build a business on more than just a few points of margin.

"It's common to see a vendor use the channel as market leverage initially, but then over time pull away," said Bishop. "We recognize that we have to develop our channel and make it profitable for the vendor. When a vendor sees a need to go out and evangelize, and a need for partner relations to help it, they will turn to companies like ours."

On Aug. 19, UniTrends plans to unveil its Data Protection Unit, a crash-recovery appliance based on the company's bare-metal restoration software application, said Greg Poole, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the vendor.

The Data Protection Unit includes two 160-Gbyte hot-swap hard drives, software and a third drive. One of the hard drives is marked with a black handle and is left in the appliance. The other drives are marked with red handles and can be swapped out and replaced as often as needed as part of an incremental backup routine, said Poole.

The goal is to get clients to do backups to the two hard drives, with the red-handled drive stored off-site to protect the data. Since the data is stored on hard drives, backups and especially restores are completed much faster than if tape is used.

The Data Protection Unit also has a SCSI connector to allow archival backups to be done to tape. The unit is expected to be priced in the low $6,000 range, which is about 50 percent higher than a typical one-drive tape autoloader, Poole said.