Look out channel pros. Acronis is coming to get you. A Swiss data protection vendor with U.S. headquarters in Burlington, Mass., Acronis entered 2016 with roughly 300 worldwide members in its partner program. The company is looking to raise that number to as many as 3,000 by December.
“We want to grow the partner program tenfold this year,” says John Zanni, Acronis’ CMO and senior vice president of channel and cloud strategy. And that’s just the beginning, he continues. The longer-term goal is to recruit tens of thousands of new partners within the next few years.
The impetus for that channel-building frenzy is Acronis’ aggressive move into a cloud BDR market slated to inflate at a 12.94 percent compound annual growth rate through 2020, according to U.K.-based market researcher Technavio. Looking to grab as large a slice of that rapidly expanding pie as possible, Acronis wants to turn masses of former on-premises-oriented BDR resellers into cloud backup service providers.
Zanni knows a thing or two about building service provider channels too. Earlier in his career he directed Microsoft’s cloud hosting partner unit, growing it into a more than $1 billion-a-year business. Acronis brought him on board in October 2014 to work some of that same magic on its own cloud revenues.
This February, following more than a year of conversations with its would-be service provider channel, Zanni rolled out the Acronis Partner Program for Cloud, an extension of the company’s existing program that shares similar tiers, rebates, and incentives, yet delivers them in ways tailored to service provider requirements.
For example, as most service providers collect fees from clients in monthly increments rather than one up-front sum, they typically can’t afford to purchase BDR licenses up front either. “We had to align our existing program that was optimized for perpetual licensing to a program that was optimized for subscription licensing,” Zanni says. Accordingly, beyond a flat $250 per month base fee, Acronis bills members of its Partner Program for Cloud in monthly volume-based installments, starting one month after each new deal. “Any customer that a service provider signs up automatically gets 30 days free unlimited usage of our product,” Zanni says.
Over time, as they grow their cloud BDR client base, providers enjoy reduced rates. “It incents them to grow as fast as possible so they can get the better pricing,” Zanni explains, noting that partners can also commit to buying large bundles of seats in advance and get that discounted pricing immediately. “That’s really up to them, and we see many of them making that choice,” he says.
That’s just one of several ways Acronis built flexibility into the Partner Program for Cloud. Service providers can also store backups in their own infrastructure, in Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure, or in one of Acronis’s 14 worldwide data centers. Smaller providers tend to choose that last option, but some prefer to employ in-house servers instead. “Then, of course, they bear the cost of the storage and they get better pricing with us,” Zanni notes.
Recruiting partners by the bucket load, meanwhile, is just one of Zanni’s ambitious objectives. Inspiring those partners to make Acronis their sole BDR supplier, instead of scattering their business across multiple vendors, is another.
“It’s a highly fragmented market today,” Zanni says of the BDR space. “There is no leader with over 10 percent market share.” Acronis aims to break through that barrier by offering partners end-to-end functionality, including e-discovery and enhanced file sync and share features scheduled to begin appearing later this year.
“Our goal is to give them one solution that makes it really easy for them to offer a full suite of data protection services to their customer through a common interface,” Zanni says, adding that partners should be focusing on BDR even if they ultimately decide to continue working with more than one vendor. “If you aren’t, you’re missing a great opportunity,” he says.