Meet the channel manager: Red Hat

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This article appeared in the January/February 2015 issue of CRN magazine.

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Meet the channel manager: Red Hat
Colin Garro

Not so long ago, 30-year industry veteran Colin Garro was entrenched in the world of Microsoft. During a 14-year tenure, he was a managing consultant and public sector sales director there, ultimately ending up as national channel sales manager. Then in July 2012, Garro leapt to open source, joining Red Hat as the new director for channel sales and development.

Partners

“I look after the channel across Australia and New Zealand. We probably have about 600 partners across that entire geography. We’ve got a three-tier channel model, just about like any other vendor on the planet: Advanced Business Partners, Ready Business Partners, and Unaffiliated Reseller Partners.

“I’m responsible across ANZ for our distributors, ISV business, cloud service providers, OEMs [and] systems integrators, both global and local.”

Journey to channel

“Red Hat’s heritage is predominantly as a direct sales organisation. Over the last three to four years, we’ve invested a lot of time and energy taking it from a total direct model to a split model. That journey has been progressing nicely. If you think about seven to 10 years ago when the Australian subsidiary really kicked off, it was 100 percent direct – and now in the last quarter we’ve now converted that to about 58 percent direct and 42 percent indirect. Our intention is very clearly to move it to to 50-50 and go further.”

Program

“We’ve only recently branded our channel program, Red Hat Connect. We have two primary pillars in the program – Red Hat Connect Technology and Red Hat Connect for Businesses. That way we have defined very clear ways for our partners to engage with us.

“The Red Hat Connect Technology pillar focuses on things like technology adoption, cloud, infrastructure and early adopter programs. Red Hat Connect for Businesses covers threads like solution provider programs and systems integrator programs.”

Open source

The internet is built around open-source technologies, so the market is certainly moving in that direction. The opportunity for potential partners is taking the customers on a journey from a traditional on-premises model to a cloud model. We think that with the world clearly moving to open source there is a very strong business opportunity to monetise that and create good, profitable practices.”

Events and awards

“In the Asia-Pacific, we have a Red Hat Partner Conference, normally around October. We reward the best partners in the region across multiple disciplines. We want to make sure we reward the best channel talent and celebrate the successes with them.”

Lessons learned

“I’ve been focused on making sure that we have clear plans that are mutually beneficial. Unless you have clear and transparent plans that show what outcomes we want to achieve and how we’re measuring the outcomes to check they’re beneficial to both parties, you are more of an acquaintance than a true partner relationship.”

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