Veeam Hires Former VMware vCloud, HPE Exec As New Channel Chief

Veeam's Kevin Rooney

Veeam Software has hired as its new channel chief Kevin Rooney, a former VMware and HPE veteran who is looking forward to helping his new employer become a billion-dollar company.

Veeam, which develops data protection technology for cloud and virtualized environments, late last month appointed Rooney as its vice president of North America Channel sales where he will be responsible for driving channel sales strategy and growing the company's Veeam ProPartner program.

It was an opportunity Rooney couldn't resist, Rooney told CRN.

[Related: Veeam Stays The Channel Course In Push To Keep Data Centers Available]

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"I've watched Veeam from the outside-in for years, and saw the loyalty it inspired in its partners," he said. "And I see the opportunity to take Veeam to a billion-dollar company. This is a company that can only grow."

Rooney said he quietly started working at Veeam in late January after more than two-and-a-half years with VMware, where he most recently managed the cloud partner organization for VMware's vCloud Air public cloud service. That included the time that EMC and VMware were trying to combine vCloud Air with EMC's Virtustream cloud technology, a project that was eventually scrapped.

Rooney said the end of the vCloud Air and Virtustream project did not impact his decision to leave VMware.

Rooney stayed with the vCloud Air project longer than another fellow executive. Riccardo Di Blasio, former vice president of sales and marketing for vCloud Air, left VMware in September and the following month joined Santa Clara, Calif.-based storage startup Cohesity.

Prior to joining VMware, Rooney spent about six years at Hewlett-Packard in the enterprise business now known as HP Enterprise, or HPE. He left HP as director of national partner sales in 2013 to join VMware.

Rooney said his experience with VMware is an asset at Veeam, despite a 2014 dispute between the two after VMware declined to allow Veeam to exhibit in that year's VMware Partner Exchange conference.

"Today, Veeam and VMware couldn't be in a tighter relationship," he said. "I'm not sure what happened then. But the alliance couldn't be better today. We've got mind share inside VMware."

Rooney said that since he joined Veeam he has seen how the company has shifted focus towards the enterprise after being exclusively focused on the SMB market.

He is also seeing strong growth with the vendor's alliance partners, including VMware, Microsoft, Cisco, and HPE. "There is a real opportunity for Veeam to work more closely with those partners," he said.

For 2016, Rooney said he has not yet completely thought through the kinds of changes he wants to see in Veeam's channel program.

"Being a month or so in, I've don't purport to have a lot of changes in mind," he said. "But we want to get more embedded in the enterprise. And we want to see growth in our cloud service provider business. Also, we want our partners focused on solutions, not products, because solution sales will drive more products with it."

While Rooney may not have a lot of changes in mind, one of Veeam's channel partners certainly does.

The partner, an executive of a silver-level Veeam channel partner who preferred to remain anonymous, told CRN via email that he wants to get a good idea of what Veeam wants to do with its channel.

For instance, the solution provider wrote, moving from the silver level, which requires annual sales of $50,000, to the gold level with its $250,000 annual sales requirement is quite a jump. "Gold gets you plenty of other benefits, dedicated CAM [channel account manager], marketing funds, website publicity, etc." the solution provider wrote.

Veeam's support could use some investment, particularly right before and after a major version upgrade, the solution provider wrote. "During support calls we immediately ask for level-2 [support] because level-1 guys are not very skilled," he wrote.

Veeam also has an unusual field support model, with sales reps, named sales reps, field systems engineers, and so on, the solution provider wrote.

"But the field SEs are pre-sales, so its hard to get technical, architecture, design questions answered – other than looking through documentation. They really need an architect (or senior SE) per region who focuses on larger deployments, corner cases, storage issues, etc.," the solution provider wrote.

Veeam could also provide better systems engineering support to its cloud services partners, the solution provider wrote.

"The issues we run into as a service provider are not the same issues we run into [with] a client who is not using the cloud," he wrote. "They did add an SE for the cloud/service providers but that’s one guy for the country. We find ourselves in situations where we don’t have a local SE who has the experience or is unavailable (because he is on sales calls, in another state or tied up with another VAR) and we can’t call support because they’re break-fix guys."

Rooney, via email, told CRN that Veeam is addressing many of the issues raised by the solution provider.

"We don’t rely on growth numbers alone to determine channel satisfaction," Rooney wrote. "Every year, we survey our partners, and our most recent survey (which was completed just a week ago) reported a 96 percent satisfaction rate with Veeam. Believe me when I say, we won’t be entirely satisfied until that final 4 percent is happy."

Rooney wrote that Veeam's partner program is changing as the market evolves, especially as large enterprises are increasingly turning to the company for help with data center availability.

"In response, for the first time Veeam is building out an enterprise sales force to address these new demands, and we are working to map our partners’ sales teams to those accounts," he wrote.

Matt Kalmenson, Veeam's vice president of North American service and cloud provider sales, responded via email to the solution provider's question about cloud service provider needs by noting that Veeam has introduced Veeam Cloud Connect and Veeam Cloud Service Provider programs to help partners realize new revenue streams with Veeam via the cloud.

"The service provider portion of our VCSP [Veeam Cloud & Service Provider] program has recently been updated: Gold starts when you have 500 VMs [virtual machines] under management, and eligibility for platinum starts at 2,000 VMs under management. In fact, we just promoted our first 7 VCSP partners to platinum. These partners will receive additional benefits including greater exposure to the traditional Veeam reseller community, thereby augmenting our entire partner ecosystem," Kalmenson wrote.

As for concerns that Veeam may not have a local systems engineer with the experience or availability to support partners, Scott Lillis, Veeam's North American vice president of systems engineering wrote via email that Veeam relies exclusively on its partners and service providers to deliver professional services when necessary.

Veeam has a program to provide partners with Veeam Certified Engineer (VMCE) certification to provide the necessary level of expertise to correctly implement and configure Veeam availability solutions, and this year will also launch an architect-level certification, Lillis wrote. A service provider certification is also under development, he wrote.

The solution provider responded via email he had signed up for VMCE live training at last year's VeeamOn conference, but the class was closed two days after registration opened and so he opted to pay $800 for the recorded video training.

"This was pretty useless. It was two guys talking to the screen and showing PowerPoints. The study materials didn’t match anything on the script and we had a fixed (short time) to do the online training, which ran out quick," the solution provider wrote.

Lillis also wrote that channel partners can get design help from their local Veeam systems engineers who can turn to the company's internal network of national and regional architects. The company can also provide additional resources, including a hosted Whiteboard Live program where users can ask Veeam and other experts real-time architecture questions, as well as access previous Whiteboard Live sessions.

The solution provider responded that he plans to follow up with his local Veeam rep about help from those regional and national architects, and will also look into the Whiteboard Live sessions.