VC Money To Help Storage Software Vendors Expand Channels

NSI Software Friday is expected to say it has raised $7 million in its Series C round of funding and that a good portion of those funds will go toward helping the company expand its channel.

Hoboken, N.J.-based NSI, founded in 1991, is the developer of Double-Take high-availability and data replication software as well as GeoCluster clustering software.

In addition, Unitrends Software executives said the Columbia, S.C.-based company, which builds data protection appliances and related software for customers with between 99 and 1,000 employees, got a B round of funding totaling $8.1 million.

These two investments are the latest in at least seven funding successes since the first of the year. This includes a second funding round of $25 million for Revivio, a Lexington, Mass.-based developer of continuous data protection software.

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Don Beeler, chairman and CEO of NSI, said his company plans to use the funds to develop new software products and increase the company's channel reach.

Beeler would not discuss details of the company's product plans. However, he did say that NSI's Double-Take sales have historically been focused on larger companies, but that it has started seeing more interest from smaller and midsize businesses. "We're seeing so much opportunities in both," he said.

Joe Gabriel, channel marketing manager at NSI, said about 80 percent of NSI's U.S. sales go through the channel. The new funding will help the company improve and relaunch its Xcelerate Partner Program and recruit more channel partners, he said.

NSI currently has about 125 channel partners split into either a Platinum or Gold tier, said Gabriel. The company plans to soon add a Silver tier and offer partners at all levels increased benefits such as improved lead-generation programs and more market development funds, he said.

Sam Licciardi, vice president of sales at Sunbelt Software, a Clearwater, Fla.-based solution provider and developer of antispyware and anti-spam software, said NSI has proven to be a great vendor partner. Sunbelt, which helped NSI close Dell as a customer before Dell eventually started reselling NSI software, has worked with NSI for about five years, he said.

Back then, NSI did not take care of its channel partners, he said. But a little more than two years ago, the vendor changed its management and instituted channel-friendly programs, especially compensation programs to incent its direct-sales force to work with partners. "Now they're very supportive of us when we bring them big deals. ... They really are a partner," Licciardi said.

As for Unitrends, which was founded in 1989 as a data protection software vendor, it only received its first round of funding in May 2003 shortly after it launched its first hardware appliance, the Data Protection Unit, said Jacques McCormack, president of the company.

The appliances come bundled with Unitrends' software to simplify the backup and restoration of data, bare-metal restores, and secure data synchronization between multiple Data Protection Units.

The new round of funding will be used to expand pre- and post-sales support, marketing, channel and product programs, McCormack said.