CRN Exclusive: Sales Chief Gangi On Eaton's Big Channel Investments And Why Partners Need To Move Faster To IPM, PredictPulse Software

Gangi On Eaton's Channel Charge

Curtiz Gangi, sales vice president for U.S. channel and midmarket in for the data center segment at $23 billion behemoth Eaton, spoke with CRN about the company's recurring revenue software sales offensive centered on the company's Intelligent Power Manager (IPM), PredictPulse and Visual Power Manager software portfolio.

Gangi – who was honored as the No. 1 channel sales leader in the industry by CRN in 2016 – has been one of the driving forces behind an all-out Eaton partner sales charge. That includes a significant effort to get partners trained and certified to sell recurring revenue services.

Gangi told CRN that partners are still not moving fast enough to capitalize on the massive shift in the power market from servers to the network closet.

"Partners that are not selling IPM and PredictPulse are missing the real opportunity," he said. "The traditional server market with UPSes is going to the cloud. So what do partners need to do? They need to move to rack PDUs, IPM software and PredictPulse service."

How you are arming partners with the sales knowledge they need to win in this market?

We are doing it is through our LMS (Learning Management System) training and certification system. That is how we are doing it. Today most partners are not selling intelligent or managed PDUs with IPM.

We are utilizing LMS as a strategic advantage for us. We are going after 450 VARs today. These are the core VARs we have recognized that are not selling the ePDUs.

That LMS portal allows our partners to be trained and certified on hardware and software. Our play is to continue to evolve the partners' understanding of where the technology is today.

What channel incentives have you put in place around LMS?

Part of LMS is our partners get increased discounts and back-end [discounts] related to the tracks they have been certified under. Once they reach that standardized level – depending on which track they are pursing whether it is software, hardware or vertical applications – they will get back-end discounts related to the products that they sell for being part of the program. These are up to 10 percent to 15 percent discounts – above and beyond standard discounts – of a particular product line that is in the LMS program tied to the certification.

How much is Eaton investing in the channel to power the recurring revenue channel opportunity?

Eaton has invested six times the amount of resources that we had in the channel versus what we had five years ago. That includes applications engineers – end-user specific – and partner development-specific. We have the right working model from a resource perspective to get out in front of end users with the partners and educate those customers on the gaps in their strategies.

Are partners moving fast enough toward recurring revenue with IPM and PredictPulse?

Partners that are not selling IPM and PredictPulse are missing the real opportunity. The traditional server market with UPSes is going to the cloud. So what do partner need to do? They need to move to Rack PDUs, IPM software and PredictPulse service. That is what partners need to be doing.

Partners need to be going after the software sale. They are not aggressively writing it into the bill of materials. The partners are missing the boat right now. This market is going backwards. With LMS, we are providing them with a way to keep this category up front and a big piece of their business. We are investing in people and tools to help them do that. They need to take advantage of it.

What types of partners are best-positioned to take advantage of opportunity?

It’s the entrepreneurial partners that see the opportunity. We want the MSPs. We want partners that can resell this to their end customer – partners controlling the bill of material. Partners leading with us and selling the entire solution are getting huge data center customer wins. Our field team is working with those partners to provide end-to-end solutions.

What gaps are you seeing in customers' power management strategies?

When customers go to the cloud, typically there isn't a power management discussion because everybody thinks it is tied to the core data center. That is where we have been able to see a lot of opportunity.

How are partners benefiting from the Powered By Eaton program?

That is to help our partners sell total solutions tied to virtualization, networking infrastructure upgrades and hyper-converged and converged opportunities. It is not standard deal registration. It is 2X what our standard registration is. We launched it last year when we started pushing IPM into the market. The goal is to get partners to quote a total solution including software. No one is really doing that in the power management market except us. That is backed by Cisco, VMware, SimpliVity and EMC.

What is the recurring revenue opportunity the rack PDUs?

Rack PDUs open the door for partners to manage the server infrastructure through IPM and managing the service of the hardware through our PredictPulse tool – a cloud based application that allows us to do predictive analysis on the power management components.

This is a big opportunity for partners. Take, for example, a national retailer with 1,500 locations. Do they have the infrastructure and operational capabilities to manage 1,500 UPSes and 3,000 PDUs in the network closets? No. They usually have a store manager doing it.

With our service tool called PredictPulse, partners can monitor all those devices throughout the network and do predictive analysis based on parametric data coming from those items to do preventive failovers – replacing batteries and failed units before [the problem] happens. That is all tied into services from partners. It is a recurring revenue contract that happens every single month.

IPM software controls the data piece- making sure things stay up and running. PredictPulse does the service delivery.

How big is the power paradigm shift for the channel from the UPS server to the remote office branch office closet?

Power has traditionally been an insurance policy on the server because you don't want to lose data. But when there is no more server on the infrastructure, what is the connection to your business? It is the network closet. In the past if the server was down you didn't need your network closet to stay up. Now as the servers are off site or it is a hybrid environment, the network closet is the connection for people to the outside world and managing their business. Today there are run time, UPS and power management needs for the network closet. That is a total shift. It used to be on the server. Resellers aren't used to doing this. What we are seeing as the main opportunity is what we call 2N redundancy built into the network closet: two UPSes, two PDUs, maybe even an A and a B power feed depending on how critical that infrastructure is.

What is the Eaton PDU opportunity?

There is a huge upside for partners here. From a sales perspective we have never had the rack enclosures like our competition has. We refreshed the entire product line. We want to become No. 2 in the market- just like we did in UPSes.

What is the difference between the new Eaton RS Rack enclosures versus the competition?

Our RS Rack is a tool-less rack enclosure. It is easily configurable with our G4 PDUs- our next generation of managed and monitored PDUs.

The No. 1 job for our sales team from a strategic initiative perspective is to get our partners on board knowing, touching and feeling these two new technologies. We are getting them certified and trained on our IPM and PredictPulse software.

Are you seeing a lot of remote office/branch office network closet opportunities?

The remote office/branch office opportunity we have been talking about for two years is starting to come to fruition. One of the things we are doing is doing more site walks with partners to identify the network closet opportunities.

What impact will Visual Power Manager have on the channel?

This is a real big deal for us. It is rack PDU management. With VPM you can perform a firmware upgrade on 1,000 systems at a time.

Where else are you seeing new market opportunities?

We are seeing a new market with connectivity of the closet with failover to digital antenna systems. That is a huge market for hardware and software that we are just starting to tap into right now. Digital antenna systems are the next big buildout for service providers. It is a failover to cellular for the local businesses. Cat6A [gigabit Ethernet cable] (which doubles the data transmission bandwidth) is rolling out into the network closets. Once that gets there and the bandwidth is available, you will also have fail over to cellular.