Exabyte Launches New Channel Program

The new ExaPartner Program includes three levels of participation: Premier, Authorized and Registered, said Kerry Brock, vice president of marketing at the Boulder-based vendor. Key benefits include fundamental technical training, communications and an advisory council.

Solution providers joining at the Premier level, which requires a minimum volume commitment, will receive the highest pricing discount on VXA-2 hardware products, Brock said. In order to join at this level, partners must register on the partner Web site, update their profiles every six months, buy products from an authorized distributor, develop a quarterly business plan and have salespeople and engineers tested on a quarterly basis. The requirements to become an Authorized partner are slightly less rigorous, according to literature describing the program's benefits.

Exabyte partners such as CDW and other solution providers that rely heavily on catalog sales are handled under a separate alliance effort with its own pricing dynamics, Brock said.

Exabyte will allow its ExaPartner participants to register names of prospective customers in order to protect pending deals, Brock said.

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One primary goal of ExaPartner is to forge closer ties with the more than 700 solution providers that signed on in the past two quarters to sell Exabyte's VXA-2 product line, which includes a series of tape drives, libraries and autoloaders, said Tom Ward, president and CEO of Exabyte.

The vendor has been positioning the technology, which uses a packet-based approach to tape backup, as a successor to DDS, which is the most widely used tape format. Nearly 1.1 million DDS tape-backup drives were shipped in 2002, according to recent research from Gartner Dataquest.

Among the main benefits of VXA-2 is a native capacity of up to 80 Gbytes at a sustained transfer rate of up to 12 MBps, according to Exabyte.

Aside from revising its channel program, Exabyte has also stepped up its OEM recruitment efforts and now counts IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Fujitsu Siemens, Toshiba and Apple Computer among its OEM partners.

"If you don't succeed with the OEMs, then the VARs struggle with the product," Ward said.