Building a thriving European business

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by John Kingdon, Regional Manager Northern Europe, Xiotech

2004 was the year for the largest privately-held storage company in the world to become serious about Europe and in April this year Xiotech appointed Philippe Foss to the role of VP of EMEA to develop the companys presence on this side of the Atlantic.

Fosss strategy was to surround himself with a strong team with proven storage and channel experience to build a thriving European business. As a result John Kingdon and Volker Grappendorf were brought on board to manage northern (UK, Netherlands and Scandinavia) and central (the German-speaking countries) Europe respectively. At the base of the strategy was Xiotechs Magnitude product family, a line of storage solutions designed to provide organisations with a user-friendly and scalable product that offered outstanding Total Cost of Ownership.

Tiered strategy
In Europe Xiotech has adopted a 100 per cent indirect business model that will benefit from Kingdons and Grappendorfs extensive experience in successfully working with resellers and distributors. The strategy is a tiered one. At the base of the pyramid we find the end users; today Xiotech has approximately 40 units deployed in Europe. Above this category we have tier two resellers (John can we say more about these VARs?). At the top of the scale are VADs and tier one VARs. In addition, Xiotech is working with agents, individuals with a strong track record in the storage industry whoas a result of their network of contactscan identify and flag opportunities to tier one VARs.

the company is looking for new partners to achieve coverage of all its key target markets

So while today Xiotech is already working with a number of resellers in Europe, the company is looking for new partners to achieve coverage of all its key target markets including financial, education, medical and government. Although becoming a Xiotech VAD or VAR is not as easy as it might be with other vendors, the appeal to the channel is multifold. Xiotechs circle of distributors and resellers is a select group of partners who enjoy a number of benefits including substantially higher-than-average margins and extensive marketing and technical support. To turn these resources into revenues, Xiotechs channel can leverage the unique feature and benefits offered by the Magnitude product family to target an end-user market that still has a long way before reaching saturation. Some of the target companies will be those end users who have tried a full-blown storage area network (SAN) and quickly realised this set up was too complex for them to manage and too expensive to run using outsourced support.

Understanding expectations
When recruiting partners, Xiotech looks for organisations that have a similar business outlook. Foss and his team are committed to aligning the company with its distributors and resellers to build long-term, profitable relationships that will see the companies evolve in the same direction over the next three to five years. The key to a successful vendor-channel relationship is first and foremost clear communications. From the start it is important that both parties understand what is expected of them and what they want to achieve from the partnership.

Over the next 12 to 18 months Xiotech is looking to increase its market share in Europe to become the clear alternative to expensive and complex storage solutions and it will be relying on its channel to achieve this.

John Kingdon is UK Country Manager and Regional Sales Manager for Northern Europe for leading storage innovator, Xiotech. In this role, John draws on long experience in the IT and storage industries both in the US and in Europe.

Kingdon started his career at PSC Systems in Rockville, Maryland as a Systems Analyst developing networking software. He then moved to Box Hill Systems in New York where he was responsible for developing storage and back-up management systems. John became Managing Director of Box Hill (later Dot Hill) for Europe, Middle East and Africa, having established Box Hill in the UK. He grew the EMEA region from a single person operation to $70 million revenue in 6 years with a staff of 35, based throughout the region. Under his tenure at Dot Hill, Kingdon was a member of the team that launched a successful IPO and later a subsequent merger. In 2002 John co-founded Bladetec, a $5 million provider of blade servers and workstations to finance, telco, government and military in the UK and Europe. John Kingdon holds a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Computer Science from Columbia University, New York.

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