The Top 10 Channel Advocates Of 2011

When it comes to championing the needs of solution providers, these are the executives that went above and beyond this year, backing their channel partners and ensuring that solution providers had the tools they needed to be successful.

As part of our Top 100 Executives report, CRN spotlights The Top 10 Channel Advocates Of 2011.

10. Rory Read

President and CEO

Earlier this year, Read brought his passion for channel sales to AMD, building on his reputation as an accessible, channel-friendly executive leader. Now the company is hoping to leverage the magic formula for turnaround success Read honed at Lenovo into its own triumph.

9. Jeff Volpe

ViewSonic Americas

Volpe has been driving ViewSonic to break new ground in the digital signage and tablet computing spaces, seizing new opportunities with fresh, differentiated product lines and moves to remake its partner program to attract partners working in the burgeoning markets.

8. Nick Tidd

D-Link North America

Tidd has made channel partners a priority, reaching out to them through a series of Webinars that give D-Link solution providers a view of the company’s sales direction and strategy. D-Link's recently revamped channel program has resulted in huge increases in both new partner registrations and deal registrations.

7. Stephen DiFranco

Vice President and General Manager, Personal Systems Group

Amid all the turmoil swirling around HP this year, solution providers found a comforting constant in Stephen DiFranco. He has continued to hammer home a singular message to partners: You need to find ways to add value in mobile. Many HP partners are heeding his call to arms.

6. Zach Nelson

President and CEO

NetSuite’s Nelson has his fingers in all the popular pies, namely cloud computing and social networking. With the launch earlier this year of NetSuite Unlimited cloud software and a partnership with Yammer that integrates social networking with ERP and CRM, it’s little wonder the channel is pushing more and more business NetSuite’s way.

5. Steve Ballmer


Microsoft’s Ballmer has been pushing partners to add more value, a strategy that manifested itself in last year’s overhaul of the company’s channel program. One year later, the Microsoft Partner Network is garnering high marks, as is the preview version of Windows 8, Ballmer’s next big technology launch.

4. Enrique Salem

President and CEO

Symantec made the strategic decision last year to push its channel partners to beef up their services prowess, and it’s a move that’s paying off for Salem. Now he is pushing that initiative forward, promising help to Symantec partners trying to find success with cloud computing.

3. Kevin Johnson

Juniper Networks

Juniper seems to be firing on all cylinders lately, thanks in no small part to its leader, Johnson, who is capitalizing on market trends toward mobile Internet and cloud computing to carve out a stronghold. His strong channel management team is ensuring that Juniper partners are capitalizing, too.

2. Rob Lloyd

Executive Vice President, Worldwide Operations

When Cisco wanted to close out its 2011 Partner Summit with a bang, it turned the main stage over to Lloyd, who delivered an impassioned plea encouraging solution providers to protect their own margins (and Cisco’s) by shunning low-cost rivals. A former VAR, Lloyd understands the pain partners sometimes grapple with and how to ease it.

1. Mark Hurd


When Hurd joined Oracle, some might have wondered what the former chairman, CEO and president of hardware powerhouse Hewlett-Packard knew about software. It turns out that wasn’t the question to ask; it was, ’What doesn’t Oracle know about hardware?’ Hurd has spent the last year filling the knowledge gap by bringing his hardware expertise to bear, particularly when it comes to building a well-oiled, profitable channel. He’s done nothing short of the impossible, remaking direct-sales antagonist Oracle into a channel-friendly power. He has transformed the company’s sales compensation plan and launched new partner incentives that pave the way to success for not only the hardware partners Oracle inherited via its Sun Microsystems acquisition, but also the software partners it was already working with.