AvePoint is bringing a "new unified focus" to the Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ) channel as it continues its ongoing push towards a 100 per cent partner model across both sales and services.
Following the appointment of AvePoint SVP of global channel and partner ecosystems Jason Beal in 2021, the cloud software vendor has recently ramped up its global channel strategy, launching a new partner platform, a new system for training and and a new services certification. It has also heavily invested in its Elements for Managed Service Providers (MSPs) portal.
Now, as the A/NZ channel hits 300 partners, its co-channel leads Oliver Gohl and Damien Neale are expecting to see a "spike” in local channel-led sales.
The two were unable to disclose AvePoint A/NZ's exact proportion of channel sales, but said the vendor is “ahead of where they expect to be”, although this is still shy of 50 per cent.
“AvePoint has always been pro-channel and active in the MSP world," said Gohl, who leads AvePoint's MSP community. "We have over 300 MSPs over Australia and New Zealand.
"When I arrived [in March 2020], I saw we have this stack of solutions and technology, but thought how do we take them out to our MSPs and channel partners and help them expand customers’ businesses? At first, a lot of the [task] was brand awareness.
“We cater to a lot of different needs; migration work; proactive governance and security frameworks. A lot of the conversations were therefore about: what are you trying to achieve in business? What are your goals for the next 12 months?"
As well as 300 MSPs, AvePoint, which specialises in protecting data stored primarily in Microsoft Office 365, also has 12 "invested partners" which consist of the likes of Data#3, Datacom and other larger system integrators that can carry out larger enterprise deals.
In addition, AvePoint also works with the distributors Ingram Micro and Rhipe, which intermediate with its MSP community.
Neale, who holds the title of channel manager for A/NZ and Microsoft alliances, said the local market is on the precipice of opportunity for post-COVID cloud migrations.
"Organisations are now looking to consolidate their risk profile and really get their governance practices in place," he said. "They want to automate what they can, especially with the amount of Teams and SharePoint data flowing around 365. Most security breaches happen accidentally from internal staff, so the more we can automate, the less likely the chance of human error.
“Although COVID was very disruptive, its effects fell into areas where our product is strongest. Large enterprises may have pushed into the cloud but without that due diligence. Their priority was getting back to some semblance of normal. But what they realised was they had no governance in place or data protection. This opened a big opportunity for our partners; they were able to engage on a more strategic level with these customers.
“We are looking at what are the existing go-to-markets people have and how AvePoint’s solutions can support those."
In addition, AvePoint is attempting to promote what it calls ‘wedge’ solutions, which takes its solutions and makes them into a customer conversation around broader governance and data protection.
“The licensing revenue is great, but services allow even more value to be added, especially when you get to the large customers," Neale said. "A lot of our days are spent working through these services programs with our partners to make sure they are certified across all the solutions AvePoint offer.”
Meanwhile, Gohl, who oversees the small- to medium-sized business (SMB) and mid-market, said the post-COVID world has also made the data protection space rope for opportunity.
“A lot of projects were on hold and a lot of timelines were uncertain," he said. "But in the SMB and mid-market space here in Australia, there were a lot of late cloud adopters working at home on old software. So, our migration tool became a huge focus for partners trying to help customers get onto Microsoft 365.
"A year later, a lot of customers who rushed to the cloud in COVID are now looking for partners to help them with back-up solutions, protection again ransomware and cryptolocker."
"From an MSP perspective, scalability and new customer acquisition is very high on the priority list; establish more customers, more offerings, but less stuff."
Looking ahead, the duo is hoping to ramp up further partner sales by bringing out a "number of programs” focused on DevOps. There, the company will focus on helping partners develop their own intellectual property, according to Gohl.
Although strong in the Microsoft ecosystem, AvePoint also has offerings for Google Workspace and Salesforce. As such, for Gohl, the ideal partner is not necessarily a company with a Microsoft 365 footprint.
“The ideal partner for us is one that has more than transactional relationships with their customers, and we want to have a long relationship with them," he added.