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Igneous Snags Former NetApp Execs To Enhance Channel Program

Leonard Iventosch and Jim Choumas, both veterans of NetApp and other channel-focused storage vendors, recently joined Igneous and helped with the development of the company's new channel program.

Leonard Iventosch

A couple of former NetApp channel executives, including former NetApp channel chief Leonard Iventosch, have joined Igneous, a developer of unstructured data management-as-a-service technology.

Iventosch is serving as chief channel adviser to Igneous, a role similar to one he currently holds with Qumulo, a Seattle, Wash.-based developer of hybrid cloud file storage. Iventosch was head of NetApp channels from 2000 to 2008, and later spent time with Isilon, EMC, ExtraHop Networks, and Nimble Storage.

Igneous, also based in Seattle, Wash., on Monday also unveiled the hiring of Jim Choumas as its new vice president of channel sales. Choumas, prior to joining Igneous in April, spent four years as director of North America channels at Qumulo. Before that, he was global enterprise sales manager at NetApp.

[Related: Igneous Guarantees Partner Margins With Launch Of New Channel Program]

Help from Iventosch and Choumas will mean a lot to Igneous, said Tom Holt, vice president of sales at InterVision Systems, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based solution provider and partner to Igneous for several months.

"Both guys are huge moves for Igneous," Holt told CRN. "Leonard was the original architect of NetApp's channel programs, and not a lot has changed with the program since he left. And Choumas ran a sales team at NetApp. He's also a storage veteran who understand the market set Igneous is going after."

The hiring Choumas and the engagement with Iventosch will help Igneous continuing building a strong channel program, Holt said.

"When Igneous first came out, it wasn't really built with a 100-percent channel mindset," he said. "Now they are channel-focused."  

Iventosch told CRN his role is to provide strategic advice to Igneous without really going to the office every day.

“My role is to help Igneous build out its channel strategy," he said. "I'm using my years of experience with what works, what doesn't work. Most people focus on day-to-day operations. I have the luxury of looking at what the channel will look like in the future.”

Iventosch said he is watching the impact of a couple dramatic trends on the channel, including the steady movement of clients to cloud computing and a push to adopt recurring revenue models.

"I see companies like Igneous, Qumulo, Cohesity, and other storage software companies get out of hardware completely," he said. "It's a good move. It gets them out of the hardware business. There's still a significant amount of VARs' revenue tied to hardware, but with low margins. It's the Igneous' of the world showing how to make money in this new model."

Choumas told CRN that in the last couple months he has been with Igneous he has been working on expanding the company's partner program in a couple of ways.

The first is the development of a guaranteed margin model. "We provide a higher percentage if the partner brings us a lead," he said. "That brings partners an extra 5 points of margin."

The second is the offering of new attractive incentives, including a new deal registration program, a first-meeting incentive, and an extra close-deal incentives which can mean tens of thousands of extra dollars for partners, Choumas said.

Igneous is also introducing Data Discovery, a new assessment tool that provides a way for partners to work with potential clients to assess their environments, Choumas said.

"We want to help partners look at potential business by helping clients look at their own data," he said. "If a partner drives this opportunity for a test drive, we'll provide incentives to the rep, the SE (system engineer), and the partner organization."

Igneous offers both hardware and software versions of its technology, Choumas said. It sells a hardware appliance based on a Supermicro server for on-premises opportunities, but the discovery done with Data Discovery uses virtual machines, he said.

Igneous is doing a couple of unique things with its channel program, Iventosch said.

"I tried to do margin guarantees at all my companies in the past, but couldn't get it done," he said. "I'm also seeing VARs changing their business model from selling products to recurring revenue. Igneous is a great way to do this. It provides opportunities for recurring revenue, but also provides big up-front payments, which makes its easier for partners to transition to recurring revenue."

Igneous, as a private company, does not report its financial situation. However, Allison Armstrong, vice president of marketing for the company, told CRN via email that Igneous in March completed its series-C round of funding worth $25 million, which means Igneous has received a total of $70 million in venture capital funding.

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