2014 Channel Chiefs: 20 To Watch

Keep Your Eyes On These Executives

Here are some channel chiefs who may not be on your radar screen, but perhaps should be.

Some, such as the channel executives at Microsoft, Dell and Juniper Networks, are relatively new to their jobs, but are taking up their posts at critical times for the companies they work for. Others are serving as channel chiefs in small but fast-growing vendors – companies that could be the big channel players of tomorrow.

Either way, these executives are worth following because their success or failure could have an outsized impact on the channel of the future.

A10 Networks
Kirsten Lee
VP, Worldwide Channels

Lee just began her work at A10 Networks in November. But A10, which filed for a $100 million IPO earlier this month, is in full-growth mode. The provider of application delivery controllers is taking its A10 Partner Program to the next level and growing its worldwide partner base: The company had 550 partners worldwide as of late 2013, up from 300 a year earlier. So Lee undoubtedly has had to hit the ground running.

Michael McClurg
VP, Global Business Partners

Five-year-old Actifio develops technology for copy data management, bringing under control multiple versions of data businesses maintain for operations, backup and recovery, test and development, and so on.

Actifio has established partner coverage in 23 countries and counts on resellers and MSPs for 85 percent of its sales. McClurg's challenge is keeping that momentum going. Last year he oversaw the implementation of the "Special Forces" partner enablement program, which targets the most influential sales and technical individuals in the partner community, and the Partner Professional Services Program, an online training regimen that solution partners use to become authorized Actifio service providers.

Barracuda Networks
Michael Hughes
SVP, Worldwide Sales

Barracuda Networks went public in late 2013 and now growth is the name of the game for this storage and security technology vendor. And under Hughes the channel is expected to contribute mightily to that growth.

Last year the company added close to 300 new partners in North America and debuted a redesigned partner portal to serve them. Barracuda also signed on with Arrow Electronics to onboard new channel partners and solution providers that prefer to buy through a distributor.

Chris Penner
VP, Channel Sales

Box has aggressively been recruiting channel partners to carry the fast-growing company's cloud storage and online file-sharing services. Last year, under Penner's guidance, Box officially launched the Box Partner Network, an ecosystem of channel, platform and technology alliance partners, to extend Box’s service into new domestic and international markets. That program has grown to include more than 500 partners.

Bill Lipsin
VP, Worldwide Channel and Global Systems Integrator Sales

In September Brocade hired Lipsin, a former channel executive at Arbor Networks and CA Technologies. He is charged with continuing to build Brocade's Alliance Partner Network program, recruiting new partners and helping them shape their businesses around such industry trends as data center virtualization, cloud computing and software-defined networking.

Also on Lipsin's to-do list: driving new partner opportunities in vertical markets, such as health care and education, and around the Brocade Network Subscription Infrastructure-as-a-Service offering.

David Hauser
Sr. Director, Channels and New Markets

Carbonite is another fast-growing cloud company that's becoming a channel force. The company offers its cloud data backup services through its growing roster of reseller, affiliate and strategic partners. Under Hauser, the company grew its partner base by more than 50 percent in 2013 to more than 4,200 partners, and partner bookings increased by 47 percent during the year.

Carbonite struck its first distribution deal last year, signing up with Tech Data's TDCloud business unit. And the company invested in a number of solutions to enable channel partners to grow their business.

Rob Rae
VP, Business Development

Datto is a hot company, having recorded four consecutive years of 300 percent year-over-year growth selling its backup and business continuity software. The company's partner community, which Rae describes as "the next generation of solution providers," grew 60 percent between late 2012 and late 2013. The company held its first partner conference in September.

But Rae isn't resting on his laurels. To support the company's rapid channel growth the channel chief has tripled the size of the technical support team for partners. The company also is taking its Datto Academy and Advanced Training partner training programs on the road to make it easier for solution providers to attend.

Cheryl Cook
VP, Global Channels, Alliances

Cook joined Dell in 2011 as vice president of enterprise solutions and was named the company's channel chief in November. She's charged with overseeing Dell's PartnerDirect program, which has more than 2,000 employees worldwide and accounts for more than one-quarter of Dell's annual revenue.

Dell, of course, is in the process of transforming itself from a direct sales-only computer hardware maker into a broad-based IT systems company. Now that the company has been taken private, CEO Michael Dell has vowed to count even more on the channel for its growth and it's Cook's job to help make that happen.

Mort Jensen
Director, Channel

Egnyte, which launched its channel program in 2011, added 230 partners to its roster in 2013 and achieved 30 percent year-over-year growth in channel revenue. Under Jensen, Egnyte broadened its channel scope in 2013 by creating a program specifically to serve MSPs, hosting providers and cloud service providers that already represent almost 20 percent of overall channel revenue.

Egnyte, a young company offering file-sharing and synchronization technology, attracted a lot of attention in July when it struck a deal to provide document collaboration and sharing for Google Drive via a solution that provides a single view of applications residing on-premise, in the cloud or on Google Drive.

IBM (Fiberlink)
Francois Daumard
VP, Channels

IBM acquired Fiberlink, a developer of cloud-based mobility device management, in December in a bid to expand its mobile management and security offerings. Daumard was Fiberlink's director of channel sales and he continues to fill that role following the acquisition.

Earlier, under Daumard, Fiberlink expanded its partner program into the SMB space and developed a dedicated business model for MSPs. Daumard told CRN in August that he hoped to add "thousands" of partners to Fiberlink's program by the end of 2014. Now he has the additional task of working with partners to integrate Fiberlink's offerings with the rest of IBM's product portfolio, including the SoftLayer cloud infrastructure company IBM also acquired last year.

Juniper Networks
Jonathan Belcher
VP, Americas Partners, Channels and Commercial

Belcher was named Juniper's channel chief in January, replacing Chris Jones, who left in November. Juniper, in fact, lost a number of channel executives in 2013, so all eyes are on Belcher as he works to keep the company's Juniper Partner Advantage program on track.

Belcher is focused on driving partner growth and profitability while simplifying how partners do business with Juniper. At the company's partner conference last month he unveiled a new "single opportunity" deal-registration process to protect partners, and outlined plans to create new partner opportunities around professional services and software-defined networking.

Phil Sorgen
Corp. VP, Worldwide Partner Group, SMSG

Sorgen, a 17-year Microsoft veteran, took over from Jon Roskill in September. He's relatively new to that post (that's why he's on the "To Watch" list), but he's not new to Microsoft channels as he previously managed the software giant's U.S. Small and Midmarket Solutions and Partners Group.

Sorgen is managing worldwide channels at a critical time, given that new CEO Satya Nadella is taking over. Microsoft is evolving into a services and devices company and that means big changes for the channel. Throw in controversies such as Microsoft's limited use of the channel to sell its Surface tablets and the news that Microsoft is cutting sales commissions it pays partners for cloud services such as Office 365 and Exchange Online, and Sorgen has his work cut out for him.

Panasonic System Communications Company Of America
Bill Brennan
VP, Reseller Sales

Panasonic has been undergoing a major overhaul of both its corporate structure and its channel strategy in North America. Brennan, previously senior director of channel sales, assumed the channel chief duties following the October departure of longtime channel chief Sheila O'Neil.

Brennan is focused on accelerating channel growth around digital convergence, looking to leverage Panasonic's 2012 restructuring that pulled together the company's mobile, telephony, security, audio/video, and office products such as scanners, displays and projectors, into one organization.

Ken Totura
Chief Channel Officer

Pax8 is a cloud commerce marketplace that delivers cloud-based services through a global network of channel partners. As a cloud services integrator, partners can resell cloud services from multiple vendors, all under one Pax8 contract.

That puts Pax8 in a pivotal spot as the channel looks for ways to simplify the move into cloud computing. Totura, one of the company's founders, led the launch of the Pax8 Partner Program in June 2013 and recruited more than 75 partners.

Qlik Technologies
Christof Majer
VP, Global Partner Sales and Partner Program

Qlik Technologies is far from the only company to see big opportunities in big data. But the developer of business intelligence, search and collaboration tools is especially focused on midmarket customers and sees the channel as its primary route to market. The Qlik Partner Program now has more than 1,500 partners in 100 countries working with the vendor's software.

Can Majer maintain the momentum? His organization increased its partner support staff by nearly 50 percent in 2013 and has expanded benefits for partner enablement and marketing programs.

Del Ross
VP, Worldwide Channel Sales

SilverSky has attracted a lot of industry attention with its managed security services and the company has transitioned from a direct model to a channel-centric approach. Ross, a channel veteran who joined the company earlier in 2013 after three years with SugarCRM, is leading that change.

Ross has created three categories of channel partners -- referral, reseller and strategic -- and provided them with marketing tools, training materials and other sales enablement resources. Since Ross' arrival the company has seen partner sales growth of 25 percent and the channel executive plans to strategically recruit additional select partners this year.

Richard Shea
VP, Sales

Converged infrastructure is hot and few startups have been hotter than SimpliVity. The company has scored more than $100 million in venture funding, began selling its product in early 2013, and expects sales of its OmniCube system to grow 500 percent in 2014.

Given that the company has a 100 percent channel sales model, that means sales vice president Shea has a lot on his plate -- in a good way. Last year Shea recruited more than 100 channel partners in more than 15 countries in just six months. The company also launched a technical training and certification program for partners and online quote and deal-registration tools.

Star2Star Communications
Colin Johnston
EVP, Sales

Star2Star has been, well, a rising star in the channel with its cloud-based unified communications software that pulls together voice, fax, videoconferencing and instant messaging in a single package.

Johnston oversaw the addition of more than 200 resellers to Star2Star's channel in 2013. The company doubled its sales for the seventh year in a row, due in no small part to a 300 percent increase in partners' per-deal revenue. To keep the momentum going, the company has doubled its inside and outside channel support resources.

Derek Dal Ponte
Senior Director, Channel Marketing

Tintri, a developer of data storage systems for virtualization and cloud environments, is another young company that's been getting a lot of attention lately -- not least because of the venture capitalists who recently showered the startup with $75 million in financing (bringing its total to $135 million).

Tintri has positioned channel partners at the center of its go-to-market strategy. Under Dal Ponte the company has been assembling a stable of select channel partners, developing partner training and certification programs, and developing lead-generation and market development initiatives. If the vendor's growth is anything close to expectations, Dal Ponte will have his hands full over the next few years.

Evan Fromberg
Senior Director, Worldwide Channel Sales

Veracode markets a SaaS-based application code security analysis service that helps developers identify vulnerabilities and configuration weaknesses in their software that hackers can exploit. With so much news about massive IT security breaches lately, it's no wonder the company is getting a lot of attention and is seen as a disrupter of the security industry status quo.

Under Fromberg's direction, Veracode has expanded its partner base and increased average revenue per partner. Some of that sprang from the 2013 launch of the Rapid AppSec Maturity Program, an initiative targeting midsize companies that boosted partners' customer acquisition efforts.