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‘7 Minutes’ with Joan Groleau, Director, North America Channel, Ipswitch

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**Editor’s Note: “7 Minutes” is a new feature where we ask channel executives from startups – or companies new to the Channel Partners audience – a series of quick questions about their businesses and channel programs.**

You likely know Ipswitch for its WhatsUp Gold monitoring product, launched in 1996 and in use by more than 1 million IT pros worldwide. On Monday the software supplier, which sells to more than 42,000 companies in 116 countries, made announcements around its MOVEit secure file transfer software as well as WhatsUp Gold.

Ipswitch's Joan Groleau

Ipswitch’s Joan Groleau

MOVEit 2017 Plus, available later this summer, will support multi-factor authentication and easier onboarding of new business partners, and will be available in the Microsoft Azure Marketplace, convenient for customers that need to securely transfer files into Azure.

WhatsUp Gold 2017 Plus, likewise due later this summer, will offer better monitoring and visibility into distributed networks as well as new features in the MSP edition.

Ipswitch also previewed enhancements for WhatsUp Gold to enable monitoring of hybrid infrastructures that use Azure and AWS public cloud services.

Ipswitch tends to go up against SpiceWorks and ManageEngine for monitoring. The secure managed file transfer market MOVEit plays in is downright crowded — rivals include Acronis, Citrix and IBM, and some customers will have adopted consumer-class products (hopefully with encryption) for transferring files. In compliance-minded shops, partners can make a case for the sort of enhanced analytics and automation available in MOVEit, in tandem with the available Ipswitch Failover module that prevents data loss at any point of failure.

See a what’s-new video explainer here.

We asked Joan Groleau, director of Ipswitch’s North American channel, to expand on the announcements and talk about the company’s partner program and plans.

Channel Partners: Tell us what customers love about your product or service. What’s the secret selling sauce?

Joan Groleau: Our customers love how easy it is to work with Ipswitch and our global network of partners. Our software is also very easy to install and get up and running. It takes approximately 20-30 minutes for WhatsUp Gold network monitoring as well as MOVEit secure file transfer to be installed and discovering devices or transferring files securely.

Professional services are available should customers need training, support or recommendations. A professional-services installation engagement provides numerous services, including post-install help with configuration as well as setting authentication sources and more. These engagements have a very high value-to-cost ratio.

In North America, full support is provided by Ipswitch — implementation, maintenance and consulting services as well as prospecting and marketing, while support is provided through our wide network of partners in other regions, such as EMEA (Europe Middle East Africa) and RoW (Rest of World). Our two-tier distribution model is an opportunity for channel partners to add services to their portfolios.

CP: Describe your channel program — metal levels, heavy on certifications, open or selective, unique features?

JG: The Ipswitch PartnerSynergy program is a global program for our partners in EMEA, North America and RoW. Features of the program include gold, silver and authorized levels; a 30-60-90-day onboarding process that includes all levels as well as free training and certification; a unique approach to the sales cycle that includes an Ipswitch territory account representative who works with partners in the sales process, providing resources such as product knowledge; solution engineers for product demonstrations supporting all channel business; and a robust deal-registration program to encourage and reward partners for bringing new business.

Ipswitch’s main differentiator: We do not compete with our partners. We are channel-agnostic. EMEA and RoW are 100-percent channel, account managers working with partners. In North America, we have a sales team that sells direct and works hand in hand to sell with the channel. For example, if there’s an opportunity in the CRM system for a company that wants to regularly deal with one of our customers, and we see there’s already an opportunity being worked, we pull the partner in and work it as a partner deal. We ask for every opportunity: Do you buy direct or do you go through a reseller? If they say a reseller, we get them involved.

CP: Quick-hit answers: Percentage of sales through the channel, number of partners, average margin. Go.

JG: At a global level, we have approximately 60 percent of our business go through the channel. Our channel globally is a two-tier distribution model with resellers: 100 percent in EMEA and RoW and 35 percent in North America with aggressive growth goals to increase that overall.

Ipswitch has approximately 2,500 partners worldwide and 250 partners in North America. A key initiative for 2017 and beyond for us is all about growth through the channel — across all regions.

CP: Who are your main competitors, and what makes your offering better?

JG: For our WhatsUp Gold network monitoring solution, we have two major strengths that differentiate us against our competition. Our users are big recommenders of both the product and the company. They frequently take WhatsUp Gold with them from company to company.

We have the industry’s most user-friendly licensing scheme. Our competitors require individual license tiers for different technologies, like routers versus servers versus applications. This means that the customer ends up with a license to perhaps manage 20 applications when they only need 12, or 300 routers when they only need 250. Ipswitch allows you to buy any number of monitoring “points” and apply them wherever you want, so the customer has a lot fewer un-used licenses.

Plus, they can change what they monitor with those licenses whenever they want. Customers love that flexibility.

For Ipswitch MOVEit secure file transfer, we specialize in providing enterprise-class manageability and industry-leading security features. Ipswitch customers rely on our software to simplify the back-end processes involved in core business operations that require the secure exchange of sensitive data with external business partners in compliance with data protection regulations like GDPR, HIPAA, PCI and others. Ipswitch also provides the ideal intersection of business manageability to assure things like SLA compliance with data security to prevent breaches and loss of data. We make that easier than anyone, so you can onboard external partners quickly, respond to audits easily and cut operating costs.

On the high end, we are much less expensive than other solutions in this space. Against low-end competitors, we provide more enterprise-grade capabilities and the confidence that ‘no one ever got fired for using Ipswitch’ for secure data transfers.

Another key differentiator is that we’ve aligned with the key technology leaders in the industry, including Cisco, Microsoft, VMware, HP, Dell and more.

CP: How do you think your technology portfolio will change in the next three years?

JG: Our future revolves around cloud, analytics, secure content transfer and IT monitoring. The Ipswitch technology portfolio will shift to cloud offerings with the increasing demand for cloud services in hybrid environments. The industry is in the midst of moving workflows and data that were traditionally handled on-premises to cloud services, where Ipswitch was an early advocate with the MOVEit Cloud offering that has been PCI certified for the last three years.

We are seeing the industry rely heavily on cloud technology from Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS. The Ipswitch technology will focus on predictive events using data analysis to help companies be proactive in solving their biggest IT challenges. Some of the challenges we see include the management of wireless, virtualized and cloud devices and managing sensitive data from an enterprise to trading partners. This includes the changing security and compliance landscape as data moves around the connected world.

The technology will also accommodate extremely large data movement while integrating with other services in the larger IT ecosystem. With all this, Ipswitch continues to lead in simplifying the user experience to delight users.

CP: How do you expect your channel strategy to evolve over that timeframe?

JG: We are adding to our program specifically for our cloud partners. With new partners focused on cloud technology, we are adding more marketing and sales materials and enablement, including training, certification and hands-on access to our software, to ensure partners are able to support our joint customers.

Additionally, we will continue our focus on going deeper with our existing partners. We have invested in our partners and their programs historically and will continue to do so; however, we are also building out our own demand-generation programs that our partners can actively opt-in to — a concierge approach to collaborating closely on joint execution and results.

We are also increasing our schedule to be on the road more with our partners, account mapping as well as joint customer and prospect calls.

CP: What didn’t we ask that partners should know?

JG: Why should you be part of the Ipswitch PartnerSynergy program? Ipswitch is unique in its program approach. We have a strong, supportive program, and we do not have barriers that would prevent our partners from working with us. Rather, we have programs to increase their knowledge across the board in marketing and products, and they can easily access our sales team and resources. We ask our partners how we can fit into their business as opposed to telling partners how they can fit in our program. Our goal is to grow with those partners who want to work with us to grow their businesses. And we are flexible with our program to provide optimum support.

Follow editor in chief @LornaGarey on Twitter.


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