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Nexsan Co-founder Lauffin Makes Exit

Nexsan Technologies co-founder Diamond Lauffin is leaving the storage company after six years of building its channel, but he takes with him an industry reputation as a channel evangelist.

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Lauffin, who until nine days ago was senior executive vice president of Nexsan, told CRN that channel rumors of his leaving the company after six years as its public face were true.

Nexsan, a leading vendor of tier-two storage arrays, most recently has been bringing to market a storage appliance aimed at helping companies store data for extended periods of time to comply with business and government regulations.

As a co-founder of Nexsan, Lauffin said he invested the last six years in growing and developing the company and its channel, and he has opened up hundreds of solution providers to Nexsan. However, he said he wanted to spend more time with his family and focus on a new endeavor that allows him to use his core competency, which he said is the ability to evangelize the channel.

Lauffin, who many in the storage industry credit with developing the IT industry's first opportunity registration program, didn't say what his immediate plans were. Yet he said part of his future plans includes helping companies develop and take advantage of opportunity registration programs.

"Ultimately, I'll be a greater benefit to solution providers and integrators than if I am at any one company," Lauffin said. "If I can take the Diamond opportunity registration program to four, five, six different companies, that will be a bigger benefit to the channel."

For now, Lauffin -- who has been known to ride his Harley-Davidson motorcycle from his home near the company's Woodland Hills, Calif. office to Las Vegas to attend VAR meetings -- will continue to do consulting for Nexsan for up to five hours a week.

Nexsan solution providers said they're surprised to see Lauffin leave the company but said carries a strong channel-friendly legacy.

Michael Fanelli, a partner at Dallas-based TreTempo, said Lauffin is the main reason he engaged with Nexsan in the first place. "Lauffin's role was evangelist," he said. "Nexsan has great people, and the product is flawless. But when you lose your point man, you need to find another good point man."

Like many in the channel, Fanelli knows Lauffin as one of the storage industry's most passionate channel executives and as someone who doesn't shy away from publicity. "He's either extremely engaging or irritating, depending on who is talking to him," Fanelli said. "And I mean that in a nice way. I have great respect for him."

Another Nexsan solution provider, who preferred to remain anonymous, said Lauffin has almost a cult status in the storage industry. "How many people out there are Diamond-zombies?" the solution provider said. "You know, the guys that have a great deal of respect for him from his Qualstar days and who have reaped the benefits of his programs? I know I am."

The solution provider said Lauffin's exit from Nexsan is unfortunate for the company. "But Nexsan will survive because it has built a big reseller base," the solution provider said.

Brendon Kinkade, vice president of marketing at Nexan, said he and his colleagues certainly understand Lauffin's need to expand his horizons. However, Kinkade said Lauffin remains part of the Nexsan family via his consulting relationship. "Everyone here is a protege of him," he said.

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