Dell Channel Exec Heads To Flash Storage Startup Infinio

Bob Skelley

Infinio has hired one of Dell's top channel executives in a move the storage performance technology developer said is aimed at leveraging his strong storage background to build its own channel program.

Bob Skelley, the new vice president of global channels for Cambridge, Mass.-based Infinio, was until last week Dell's executive director of North American channel sales.

The chance to work with a relative newcomer to the channel was too good an opportunity to pass up, Skelley told CRN.

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"Infinio's technology is impressive, and the company has a great marketing opportunity," he said. "I'm coming in to build a channel team. We're building a channel program and channel strategy from the ground up, and looking at how to leverage the channel community."

Infinio develops software that turns a server's RAM into a high-speed flash storage layer, said Arun Agarwal, co-founder and CEO of Infinio. A version to take advantage of flash storage add-ons is slated to be released by year-end.

The software deploys within 30 minutes and adds a high-performance flash layer to existing storage infrastructures without additional hardware, Agarwal told CRN. "It's nondisruptive," he said. "And, if a customer doesn't like it, they can [de-install] it in five minutes."

Dell's regional channel team will now report to David Miketinac, executive director for channel sales, who now has responsibility for the Regional Value Added Reseller team and its distribution business, according to a Dell spokesman.

Miketinac, who has been with Round Rock, Texas-based Dell for 20-plus years, most recently served as executive director for North American distribution sales. Prior to that, he led Dell's Canadian commercial sales organization and served in other channel, consumer, enterprise, and state and local government sales roles.

Several Dell channel partners said Infinio has a great opportunity to build its channel with help from Skelley.

Skelley is an "immensely talented person" who will be missed in the Dell channel, said Paul Clifford, president of Davenport Group, a St. Paul, Minn.-based solution provider and Dell channel partner.

"If he has found a great opportunity to build something for someone new, good for him," Clifford told CRN.

Skelley also is a channel advocate, Clifford said, adding that he "balances partner and vendor needs."

Davenport Group has been looking at working with another developer of storage performance technology that is competitive with Infinio’s and is sold via Dell, Clifford said.

"Now we'll consider looking at Infinio because of Bob," he said. "Where smart people go, we want to see what's happening."

Patrick Mulvee, a partner at Sidepath, an Irvine, Calif.-based solution provider and Dell channel partner, said Skelley has a lot of relationships in the channel he can tap for Infinio.

"Infinio will get a lot of exposure because of Bob," Mulvee told CRN.

Skelley's move to Infinio could result in Dell partnering with the company, said Michael Tanenhaus, principal at Mavenspire, an Annapolis, Md.-based solution provider and Dell channel partner.

Several vendors, including flash storage developer Micron, hyper-converged infrastructure solution developer Nutanix and software-defined storage technology developer Nexenta, ended up being strong Dell technology partners after ex-Dell people moved to join them, Tanenhaus told CRN. "It wouldn't surprise me to see Infinio get on the list," he said.

For instance, Tanenhaus cited Darren Thomas, the former vice president and general manager of storage at Dell who in 2012 moved to become vice president of the storage business unit at Micron. Also at Micron is Mark Glasgow, vice president of worldwide enterprise sales, who until last year was executive director of Dell's Advanced Systems Group.

Skelley has played a key role in developing Dell's channels, according to Tanenhaus.

"He really understands not just the process of the channel, but also the culture of the channel," he said. " 'Process' looks at the value of doing something. 'Culture' means looking at whether the right thing was done. Did we both do the right thing? Did we both win? Was it valuable to both of us? Bob was universally seen as your champion. He's the only person I know who can talk about channel conflict and no one gets angry."

Infinio did not disclose the number of partners it has on board, stating the channel program is still too new. But Agarwal said Infinio currently works with solution providers and wants to build a full channel community targeting adding performance to existing storage installations and to new data center builds. "Partners can walk into an installed base and, without spending much on marketing, see an immediate opportunity," he said.

Skelley's role at Infinio is a new one for the company, Agarwal said. "We wanted someone to recruit partners and to build a world-class partner program," he said. "We met with multiple candidates. And Bob was the best."

Infinio already has a good foundation for a channel program, Skelley said. He said his priorities include making it easy and profitable for partners to work with Infinio, and to minimize channel conflict with solid deal registration and other programs. "Also, we want to bring new partners into our ecosystem," he said. "Recruitment will be a big initiative for me personally."