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StorageCraft's Leo Lynch discusses his career journey and the channel

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StorageCraft's Leo Lynch discusses his career journey and the channel

Leo Lynch, StorageCraft's Channel Chief, tells us about the importance of being increasingly flexible with customers, about the explosion in ransomware and much more.

Tell us about the career journey that got you to where you are today? 

  • I am the Director of Sales, Asia Pacific for StorageCraft, a 100% channel-dedicated provider of integrated data backup, protection and recovery solutions.
  • For the last 30 years, I have been focused on partner-centric growth in the region. I started my career at HP joining as a Graduate from University where I joined the Channel Team and stayed for 19 years. This was followed by strategic ANZ sales roles at EMC and IBM, focused on growing relationships with global business partners. In 2015, I joined Huawei Technologies as Director of Channel Sales. 
  • I joined StorageCraft in March 2017 as channel lead in ANZ and this year, my remit was expanded to the Asia Pacific region.  I am excited about the tremendous opportunity to accelerate StorageCraft’s strategic growth across the business continuity category, particularly as we help our partners weather the challenges and opportunities of the current climate.

What unique insights did you gain along the way?   

  • A unique insight I learnt from over 30 years in the channel is that all long-term partnerships need to be mutually beneficial to both the Partner and vendor. With the rise of MSPs this is as valid today as ever given the MSP is the consumer of product and enhances it to provide a service for the end customer. 
  • Partners often have everything on the line, their business is their ‘everything’ with their house, income and every asset they possess tied up in it. So, that means as a vendor we need to recognise and respect that.
  • Always under commit and over deliver, to build trust partners and customers need to know they can rely you, often their livelihood is on the line
  • Channel partners are evolving into complete solutions providers across the business continuity spectrum. With more MSP mergers and acquisitions on the horizon, recurring revenue streams will become more important to the acquiring entities’ business model. So, solutions that deliver consistent revenue, are easy to integrate, easy to use, and aggressively priced — especially at scale — will be the winners.

What are the key challenges facing your partners and your advice for overcoming them?  

  • The current environment is challenging for partners in terms of how they operate their business and how they stay profitable.
  • Partners will have to find new ways of operating, in ways which may be less efficient than what they were used to. There’s been a greater need to support more a distributed workforce across their customer base, which required some partners to redesign their managed offerings and support their customers differently.
  • Given the significant impact of the evolving pandemic, there’s also been the inevitable loss of customers among our solution partner base, we've seen some of our solution partners that have had a reduction in their workforce, or where their customers have had a reduction on workforce.
  • Some advice to overcome these challenges, continue growing stronger and stay profitable under this environment:
  1. Embrace a recurring revenue model. Channel partners should offer more flexible service subscriptions to their customers. In today’s precarious economy, few companies are eager to pay for MSP services a year or two in advance. The reason is that many companies don’t know if they’ll still be in business a year or two from now. Organisations want the latitude to turn essential services on and off as needed. In this environment, subscription services that deliver consistent revenue, are easy to integrate and aggressively priced — especially at scale — will be the winners.
  2. Mitigate against future disasters. Small and midsize businesses rely on MSPs to ensure their data and IT infrastructure are always safe, available and optimized. They also expect a rapid response in the event of a data or business continuity vulnerability. Once we rebound from COVID, there will still be plenty of other threats to address. At the top of the list is ransomware. MSPs that effectively manage the ransomware problem — and help their clients implement strategies around data backup and recovery — will be at a significant advantage. Natural disasters such as bushfires and floods will also present a significant challenge to businesses, especially as climate change intensifies. In Australia, for instance, volatile bushfires are proving to be a constant threat to business continuity. MSPs need to have systems in place to help their clients protect and recover their data in an emergency.
  1. Offer services geared toward the new normal. A remote-working environment requires different tools to manage remote workers and enable them to thrive. Remote employees are working in unmanaged environments, and on new networks, so backup becomes more critical. The reality is that system glitches and downtime will be increasingly frequent in a remote-working environment. MSPs can effectively differentiate themselves by backing up data and promptly getting customers back online without hindering their productivity. Plus, by rolling out new data-recovery features, MSPs can better monetise the work-from-home trend.
  2. Look for vendors that can be great partners. MSPs are under tremendous pressure to resolve complex customer problems while avoiding increased costs for the technical assistance needed to fix them. That’s why they should partner with vendors that help share the load and show they have skin in the game. The most responsive vendors are currently extending 24/7 global channel support services to alleviate this problem for MSPs. This 24/7 support eases the added pressure that working from home places on MSPs while allowing them to extend their revenue potential without additional costs.

Where does the channel need to gain in expertise and/or support?

  • It goes without saying that this year has required many of us to acquire new expertise and support in ways we hadn’t imagined. The emerging area of focus for the channel has to be adjusting to the new normal in order to regain stability, stay operationally efficient and profitable are emerging areas of focus for the channel. 
  • We've helped a lot of solution partners build their businesses around keeping their customers data safe, protected, available as we move through this new era. 
  • The Partners who have been the most successful in these recent time are the ones who are most adaptable. The ability to pivot your business to say DRaaS when you have traditionally been in consulting is an example I have seen as the larger contracts get delayed.

 How can StorageCraft help the channel?   

  • StorageCraft provides a technology platform that allows partners to evolve into a more efficient operating model, by unifying capabilities under the StorageCraft OneSystem with a seamless user interface and cloud-based management system.
  • We recognise the importance of the ecosystem to partners. StorageCraft has invested into making sure our solutions really fit into this wider ecosystem and provide partners the ability to provide the solutions for their customers. At the same time, we help our partners remain efficient and have great connectivity into the rest of the ecosystem.

What positive and negative effects are COVID-19 having on demand?

  • Unfortunately, COVID-19 has not slowed down the persistent increase in ransomware attacks. If anything, it’s quite the opposite. As a result, our partners are doing more data recoveries as a result of ransomware and malware.
  • Many of our end users are concerned about how the threat of ransomware is affecting their distributed workforce. Greater reliance on remote communications open them up to more types of phishing attacks, more types of social engineering that have resulted in more ransomware infections.
  • MSPs are experiencing added pressures as they help businesses adapt their IT infrastructures around distributed workforces due to COVID-19. According to Zendesk, request volumes remain well above pre-crisis levels, and average global support requests were up 19 per cent in mid-July, compared to the same time last year. Small and mid-sized businesses rely on their MSPs to ensure their data and IT infrastructure are always available and accessible, regardless of location. They also expect a rapid response in the event of a data or business continuity vulnerability.
  • At the same time, MSPs are under tremendous pressure to resolve often complex customer problems while avoiding increased costs on the technical assistance needed to fix them. StorageCraft has responded to this by extending 24/7 global channel support service to help alleviate this problem.
  • StorageCraft’s unified platform provides a single stack across all business continuity and it offers our partners a complete offering plus strong margin and revenue predictability. The extended offering instantly extends our partners’ market and revenue potential without additional CAPEX or OPEX. They also benefit from increased efficiency and productivity and a reduction in management, complexity and training costs.
  • The new normal will change how we live, work and function permanently, which means we expect to see a considerable expansion in DRaaS (Disaster Recovery as a Service), cloud backup, and converged storage moving forward.

What are your plans for the back-half of 2020?

  • Our focus is on making sure that we are two to four times better than the other market players in terms of ease of use and speed. The better the operational maturity level of our partners, the higher their efficiency, the better their customer satisfaction, and frankly, the better their profitability.
  • We have ShadowProtect 7 coming out later this year, which will add new exciting functionality and ways to protect data. Stay tuned!
  • Our new ShadowXafe and OneXafe products provide the ability to do host-based backup and provide the ability to have integrated cloud management from a single platform. We believe this is a great opportunity for partners to push towards standardisation and gain more operational maturity into their businesses. By doing this, they can spend more time developing new managed offerings and customers and improve profitability.
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