Virtual WAN vendor launches channel program, targets Canada

Seeing an opportunity to capture market share in Canada from competitors such as <a href="" target="_blank" Riverbed and Cisco Systems, virtualized wide area network optimization (WAN) and application acceleration vendor Certeon has launched a formal channel partner program and is looking to recruit partners in the Canadian market.

Based in Burlington, Mass., Certeon was founded in 2003 and its flagship offering is its aCelera software, which the company claims is the only WAN optimization and application acceleration solution delivered as a virtual appliance. Karl Soderlund, Certeon’s senior vice-president, worldwide sales and business development, said what differentiates Certeon is that its solution is a software-based virtual appliance, while most competitors are hardware-based.

“What that gives us is tremendous flexibility for the end-user market, ease of use, ease of implementation, and incredible value and total cost of ownership,” said Soderlund. “Plus, it’s hypervisor and hardware agnostic.”

Soderlund said Certeon’s go to market tends to be more horizontally than vertically-focused, and the mid-enterprise (300 to 500 seats) has been a sweet-spot although the offering can scale from as few as 10 seats to as many as 100,000.

“The WAN optimization market is a multi-billion dollar opportunity, but it has only been five per cent penetrated,” said Soderlund. “The traditional vendors have high price-points, and typically are focused on the data centre. But companies have needs in branch offices and mobile offices as well.”

For Certeon, Canada is currently largely a greenfield opportunity. They’re currently covering Canada with an account manager, systems engineer and an inside sales representative working out of Chicago. Soderlund added he’s currently in contract negotiations with a large distribution partner to help them in the Canadian market.

“We would love to have feet on the ground (in Canada) if we can build a pipeline that supports it,” said Soderlund.

A newcomer to Certeon about nine weeks into the job, Soderlund said he joined a company that had a direct-sales focus, and a very ad hoc channel program that was opportunistic based on each opportunity. Recognizing that Certeon needs a heavy channel presence if it’s going to grow and capitalize on the market opportunity it sees for its product, Soderlund said he’d like to see the company achieve an 85 per cent indirect/ 15 per cent direct mix.

“Federal government and large enterprises in the U.S. that demand a vendor relationship will still be direct, but otherwise my strategy is to have our sales staff drive brand recognition with fulfillment thru the channel,” said Soderlund.

To help achieve that, Certeon has launched its first structured worldwide channel program. Soderlund said it will be based on competency and performance, allowing partners to achieve “extreme profitability.” In combination with deal registration layered on top of standard discounting, he said partners can earn margins of 17 to 27 percent, depending on customer segment and deal size.

“If they’re providing value, I’m willing to pay for that,” said Soderlund.

Certeon will be looking to avoid over-distribution by selectively choosing to work with key partners. The program has multiple tiers based on competency, training and certification in both sales and certification. Training is free for partners, Soderlund added.

“Partners have a cost associates with sales or engineering people being out of the field, so they shouldn’t have to carry the burden of training. We’ll pay for the training,” said Soderlund. “What I’m looking for in return is a commitment to bundle their technology into our practice.

The ideal Certeon partner will be geographically-focused on specific applications, said Soderlund. They may have a Microsoft Sharepoint or an IBM Rational focus. Basically, anyone with a virtualization practice would be a good fit, including Microsoft or Vmware.

“For resellers, breaking into a new technology with a software- based solution will allow these resellers to penetrate accounts they never could before with hardware. They’ll be differentiated in the solutions they bring to market,” said Soderlund.

Follow Jeff Jedras on Twitter: @JeffJedrasCDN.

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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