15 Tech Companies Doing Cool Stuff In The Channel Right Now

What's Next In The Channel

It's no secret that the IT market is always in flux. Whether it's the latest security offering, new technology partnerships or a reinvigorated focus on channel partners, there's no shortage of tech vendor happenings that solution providers might be interested in. It can be hard to keep up with it all, but hey, that's what CRN is here for. Last week, CRN's publisher, The Channel Company, hosted the 2016 XChange Solution Provider conference in Los Angeles, bringing together some of the industry's top VARs, systems integrators and strategic service providers with key channel-savvy vendors. Here's a look at what some of those vendors are up to right now, and why it matters to solution providers.


Datto, a Norwalk, Conn.-based provider of data protection and business continuity offerings, is preparing to unveil DattoDrive, a new cloud-based file sync and share service based on the company's own 180-petabyte cloud. With DattoDrive, Datto's channel partners can offer customers a free terabyte of cloud-based capacity for a full year. Starting in the second year, the service will cost customers $10 per terabyte.

Datto told CRN the idea is to get customers hooked on a true enterprise-class alternative to Dropbox, Box and so on. Partners can bring in potential clients, while Datto will pass leads to its channel partners. The goal is to use a low-cost service to attract customers to Datto's and partners' other services.

RapidFire Tools

RapidFire Tools last week launched a software version of its Inspector appliance, which it said would allow for easier delivery of its popular "deep-dive" assessment and compliance tool. Mark Winter, vice president of sales, told CRN at XChange that the new software version presents a huge opportunity for channel partners because it provides them more flexible delivery models, as well as a lower entry point ($99 per month) for more cost-sensitive customers. Winter said RapidFire Tools will continue building on the Inspector hardware and software appliances in the months to come.


CompTIA launched the Channel Chief Giving Circle (CCGC), a philanthropic initiative for vendor executives, during XChange Solution Provider 2016.

The Downers Grove, Ill.-based IT industry association plans to ask 200 senior vendor and distributor executives to identify a charity of their choice, with a preference for organizations that help young people gain access to technology or those assisting underrepresented groups in gaining IT employment.

Once the charity is identified, CompTIA will make a $1,000 donation out of its own pocket on behalf of the executive. Todd Thibodeaux (pictured), CompTIA’s president and CEO, said the group hopes to donate $200,000 this year and plans to turn CCGC into an annual giving program.


ZyXel, Hsinchu, Taiwan-based networking vendor that targets small and medium-size businesses, is looking to make a big splash in the U.S. channel by going back to basics. ZyXel, which has its North America headquarters in Anaheim, Calif., is courting channel partners by pledging better support and higher margins than what larger, more established networking vendors are offering.

Matthew Dargis, vice president of North America channel sales at ZyXel, said the focus is on building close relationships with partners. ZyXel also doesn't require support contracts for its customers, which means partners can boost margins and build tighter relationships with their customers, he said.

While ZyXel is facing competition from other, more well-known networking vendors, Dargis believes it can attract partners and customers by listening to their needs -- which includes talking over the phone rather than sending email, he said.


The advent of Voice over IP has opened up a new and potentially lucrative line of business to the channel. But selecting a VoIP vendor can be a tricky proposition for traditional IT resellers expanding into the realm of communications equipment services.

Plano, Texas-based Cytracom says it makes it easier for solution providers to jump in by offering its service with absolutely no contract. Partners can take advantage of a free VoIP certification program, free hardware on a three-year refresh cycle, and a free demo account.

The company was born from an MSP, and built its service from the perspective of partners. That's why Cytracom sells exclusively through the channel, the company says.

Samsung Knox

Samsung Electronics America, Ridgefield Park, N.J., is launching a new partner certification program for its Samsung Knox mobile security platform aimed at helping solution providers generate new revenue from their mobile business. The new program will provide incentives to channel partners of the Samsung Knox mobility security platform based on the level of certification and training they have received.

The program will also include a demand-generation program and automated partner marketing for certified partners, and will offer non-Samsung-specific soft skills training, such as teaching sales reps how to talk to customers the way they want to be talked to.


The ShadowProtect SPX data protection and disaster recovery offering from Draper, Utah-based StorageCraft is, as of this month, available to partners with a choice of a traditional per-virtual-machine license and a new per-CPU-socket license. StorageCraft told CRN the new per-socket pricing option comes in a two-socket version for customers with virtualized environments based on up to six sockets, and a one-socket edition for flexibility in environments with over six sockets.

The new per-socket license gives customers a lower overall cost while letting them focus less on managing per-virtual-machine licenses, StorageCraft said.


WTG is one of only a handful of master agents to join Microsoft's Cloud Solution Provider program, providing the Malibu, Calif.-based company's VAR and agent partners with access to design, implementation, services and support around Office 365 and Microsoft Azure.

WTG will team up with Cal Net Technology Group, the company's top solution provider in the West, to deliver Microsoft's cloud solutions. The agreement will make it easier for WTG's channel to break into the cloud by enabling them to directly provision, manage, sell, bill and support combined products and services.

This will be WTG's first time working with Microsoft, a partnership enabled by the CSP program's strong focus on MSPs and telecom agents, WTG said.


NetApp is setting new rules of engagement as part of a three-year strategy to grow its storage business via channel partners. The rules of engagement are based on NetApp's code of conduct. Every employee must go through annual training on the channel, and compensation depends on working with channel partners.

"We've got some very proscriptive ingredients here," said Bill Lipsin, vice president of global channels for the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based storage vendor. "If you do this, this could happen. If you do this, this will happen. ... These rules of engagement are critical in terms of how we deal with deal registration, opportunity management and support, as well as lots of other things."

The company is also offering a new series of eight FlexPod solutions configured by Phoenix-based distributor Avnet. These include three models reaching different capacity levels, versions of those three that include flash storage, and two new entry-level models with list pricing starting at less than $60,000.


Long a player in the anti-spam appliance and Web filtering markets, Irish security vendor TitanHQ is making the jump into the North American channel market, new channel chief Eric Simpson told CRN at XChange. Simpson joined TitanHQ in September to help the company transform its direct approach in the region to a channel-first approach, getting rid of the direct sales force in the region and launching a full channel program. Simpson said the company has already started to see a lot of traction with systems integrators and MSPs in North America -- so much, in fact, that the company is starting to take the same channel-first approach in the U.K. and European markets, where it also operates. TitanHQ has U.S. headquarters in Tampa, Fla.


The Orbitera Cloud Commerce Platform makes it easier for ISVs, system integrators and VARs to build unique distribution channels through which they can manage sales cycles, operations, billing, marketing and the deployment of cloud tools and services, the West Hollywood, Calif.-based company told CRN.

The platform enables vendors, tech partners and their channels to build relationships that facilitate bundling and delivery of cloud software and infrastructure. And customers can use Orbitera to find and evaluate the right solutions.


There are plenty of companies out there offering backup and disaster recovery services through the cloud, but Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Zetta says its differentiator is the speed with which its software can shuttle snapshots of application and server data from on-premises systems to its own data centers.

The company is flipping to a channel-centric distribution model: Eighty percent of its business is direct, but Zetta hopes to be doing 80 percent sales through the channel in the not-too-distant future.

A complete business continuity solution is on its way, according to company executives.

Insight Enterprises

Insight Enterprises plans to invest heavily in its cloud platform over the next couple of quarters to build out Infrastructure-as-a-Service consumption abilities and enhance management capabilities through improved dashboards.

The Tempe, Ariz.-based company, No. 13 on the CRN Solution Provider 500, said its cloud platform provided to other partners will focus more on management while others in the industry continue to focus on rapidly commoditizing purchasing or infrastructure capabilities.

Jeromy Siebenaler, Insight's vice president and chief cloud architect, said Microsoft Dynamics, InTune and Office 365 are being rolled out on the new architecture this month, Symantec and IBM SoftLayer will debut in the second quarter, and Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure will appear later in the second quarter.


Eaton, Cleveland, Ohio, introduced a new version of its Intelligent Power Manager, or IPM, software that now includes integration with VMware's vRealize Operations Manager. Also new is a licensing arrangement that provides solution providers recurring revenue opportunities.

Eaton claims the new version of IPM, combined with new power management training, will help partners become certified IPM consultants. The new pricing structure is also aimed at increasing partner profitability with upfront installation and annual consulting services around all of Eaton's product offerings. The company's PowerAdvantage Partner Program was also changed to provide higher rewards on upfront software and installation services for registered opportunities.


Polycom is making a push in a big way into the collaboration and workflow markets, expanding on its strong base in the video and voice conferencing space, Christopher Jones, president of Americas sales and the worldwide partner organization, and Nick Tidd, vice president of the global partner organization, told CRN at XChange. That push was underpinned by Polycom's video collaboration partnership with Microsoft, unveiled last week.

The partnership brings together Skype for Business with Polycom's RealPresence Group Series in a set of purpose-built solutions for video collaboration. Tidd said this development presents a "tremendous opportunity" for partners of both vendors, as it opens up an entire new ecosystem of opportunity for partners to help SMBs and enterprises migrate to a Skype for Business platform.