Rising Star Rosa Takes Top Channel Job At Actifio

Russell Rosa

Russell Rosa, a rising star in the channel who has won raves for driving partner sales growth at both Cisco and VCE, has taken the top channel job at Actifio, a hot emerging vendor focused on the storage virtualization opportunity.

Rosa has been named vice president of worldwide channels for Waltham, Mass.-based Actifio, which has received high-profile venture backing and is led by a seasoned executive team with a proven track record driving disruptive technology into the market.

[Related: File Virtualization Startup Actifio Scores $33.5 Million In Funding ]

Before taking the Actifio job, Rosa spent 18 months as vice president of Americas Channel at VCE, the joint partnership between infrastructure heavyweights VMware, Cisco and EMC. A VCE spokesperson said the company is in the process of searching for a replacement for Rosa.

Sponsored post

Prior to the VCE post, Rosa spent 15 years at Cisco, where his experience driving profitable partner relationships helped make the networking market leader a channel power. Rosa was featured in CRN's 2011 class of 100 People You Don't Know But Should.

"This is a new fast growing category -- protection and availability storage (PAS)," said Rosa. "I'm fired up! It's the opportunity of a lifetime."

He said the three-year-old Actifio is at the forefront of a $34 billion market opportunity aimed at solving major customer pain points that include disaster recovery, business continuity and big data cloud computing challenges.

For channel partners, Rosa said, the Actifio product opens the door to acquire new customers at a rapid clip in an emerging market with high margins and recurring revenue with average deal size in the $250,000 range. That's a far cry from the well-established data center infrastructure market where solution providers are "fighting tooth and nail" holding on to existing customers, said Rosa. "This is a wellness plan for channel partners," he said.

Actifio already has strong channel DNA with 100 partners worldwide accounting for 90 percent of channel sales with a channel program that was rated best in class five stars by CRN in 2011.

Noting that channel has been a critical part of the company from its beginnings, Actifio CEO Ash Ashutosh called Rosa a "strong, proven leader" whose experience in virtualization, storage and cloud that will help drive rapid channel adoption of PAS.

NEXT: Looking For Partners Willing To Evangelize Disruptive Technology

Mark Taylor, vice president and general manager of Arrow's Enterprise Computing Solutions Group, which is working closely with Actifio to recruit new partners, credited Actifio's management team for having the "patience to bring in the right person" to drive channel sales growth.

"Russell gets that it is important not only how you communicate the value proposition, but how you build the channel program to go with it so partners can understand and connect the value proposition and market opportunity without a vast complex array of structure so they can spend more time selling," said Taylor. "This is a very significant moment in terms of storage complexity. I have not seen a technology like this in terms of ease of use and configuration. The return on investment for client value is almost immediate. You rarely see that."

Actifio is being careful not to overdistribute its PAS product set and is being very "selective" in its partner recruitment efforts, Rosa said, as it looks for partners willing to "evangelize a new disruptive technology and embrace a new way of doing business."

Taylor said the ideal demographic is storage integrators with heavy storage and data management expertise, and technical skills in business continuity, backup, recovery, remote replication and even business analytics.

Rosa's appointment comes just several months after Actifio raised $33.5 million in a Series C financing led by highly regarded venture firm Andreesen Horowitz. That financing is aimed at driving the "growth phase" of the disruptive technology provider that is drawing comparisons to VMware for its game-changing technology. Actifio boasts that its PAS product set reduces IT costs by a factor of ten by eliminating redundant data silos.

Rosa will report directly to Actifio President Jim Sullivan, a 23-year storage veteran who was previously president of XIV, a storage innovator that was acquired by IBM in 2008. "He is a legend," said Rosa. "Working with Jim on a daily basis as a mentor is another huge opportunity for me. To say I'm excited would be an understatement."

Andrew Gilman, senior director of global marketing at Actifio, said the company has pulled off an incredible engineering effort to get the PAS product set established. Now, he said, Actifio is laser-focused on executing in the sales trenches with proven leaders like Rosa.

"We are maniacal about taking care of our customers, making sure they have everything they need to be successful," he said. "This is a really exciting time for us driving a new category of storage protection. We are 100 percent focused on executing. If we do, the sky is the limit."