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Violin Systems revamps partner program amid company reboot

Violin Systems' new channel program offers three tiers of participation for partners in the storage market. The company named former X-IO executive Tim Cullen to head the effort.

After one failed attempt, Violin Systems LLC is once again seeking to carve out a viable niche in the highly competitive storage market and is enlisting channel partners to back its effort.

The San Jose, Calif., company's new channel program, Partner , prefunds premier partner lead generation events. The revamped partner program follows an earlier iteration, in which Violin conducted 30% its business through partners and 70% through direct sales. Now, the company relies 100% on the channel.

"We are meeting with potential partners and turning our direct sales customers over to them," said Tim Cullen, vice president worldwide channels at Violin Systems. Cullen previously led the global sales operations at SMB storage supplier X-IO, which Violin Systems acquired in October 2018.

Partners will find Violin Systems now has two product lines, one geared to high-end users and a second to SMBs.

A three-tier program

The company's channel initiative is built on three tiers. Partner qualifications are based on annual revenue generated, deals per quarter, and the number employees who trained to deploy Violin Systems' products:

We want to have a handful partners in our key geographic regions and ensure that they are not competing with one another for every sale.
Tim CullenVice president worldwide channels, Violin Systems
  • Premier tier: The vendor's top-performing partners receive prefunding for lead generation events and are expected to generate numerous deals during the year. The company declined to specify how many deals partners would need to make in order to qualify.
  • Authorized tier: Partners in this bracket also receive sales and marketing support and are expected to regularly generate business during the year.
  • Registered tier: These companies land a deal every year or two.

Violin Systems now has about 40 channel partners, including nine Premier members, and would like to at least double those numbers in the next 12 months, according to Cullen. The company does not want to have several hundred partners, but envisions eventually reaching 100 to 200.

"We want to have a handful partners in our key geographic regions and ensure that they are not competing with one another for every sale," Cullen said.

The vendor's path

Founded in 2005, Violin was at the forefront the flash market and developed high-end, low latency storage platforms.

The vendor, however, was unable to parlay its early market entry and high- performance flash systems into a thriving business. So, the firm filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December 2016. In April 2017, an investment fund The Soros Group purchased the company for $14.5 million.

In addition to bringing in a new management team, Violin changed its name to Violin Systems and acquired X-IO. The company kept the Violin XVS brand for its legacy product line, and adopted the Violin XIO name for the acquired technology.

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