Software services with a smile

Software services with a smile

A born comedian, Irish funnyman Sean Walsh, AppSense's vice-president of A/NZ sales, has been living and breathing IT since the early 90s. And while he may have missed his comedic calling, he is using his chatty skills to attract AppSense partners into the fold. The UK-based company opened shop in Australia about three years ago.

With a stack of channel experience under his belt, he helped formulate the channel model from scratch, get the distribution ranks in order, and attract high-level regional partners, along with global system integrators and entry-level security partners. This year, Walsh wants to help the channel grow and identify the service and license-based software revenue models. He said the local channel had bulged over the past 12 months, with 100 partners enrolling under the certified partner program.

What is your professional background? Sean Walsh (SW): I have been in Australia since 1998. Since then, I have been predominantly in the Citrix and security channel. I was with Citrix Systems in Melbourne, running the channel for the southern region. Prior to that, I worked for Express Data in Sydney. I was the national Citrix business development manager, charged with developing and growing the Citrix channel for Express Data resellers. We grew it from a market share of 30-40 per cent to 80 per cent by the time I left.

Why did you leave Ireland? SW: It's a great place to be born, and brought up, and learn to drink, but unless you want to shear sheep [I come from a farming background; a shepherd by trade] and make transistors for big manufacturing companies, there is not much else to do. So I wandered off, went to England for a while and finished University there, and eventually decided to come to Australia.

What's the company's channel model? SW: We offer a two-tier channel model. We work with ITX as our main distributor here in Australia, and with MPA in New Zealand. We work with global partners (system integrators); regional gold partners; and CSPs, our entry-level channel partners. Some of our larger global partners would be companies like HP because they have an integration arm, and some of our large gold partners are companies like Volante and DiData.

What are some of the noteworthy channel changes to occur last year? SW: We moved to a certified channel model, which has led to just over 100 AppSense certified engineers in the country. We have been flying under the radar for a lot of people, but now to sell our technology you have to commit to our channel program and to get people trained.

What do you hope to achieve in 2006? SW: We are well known in the Citrix server-based computing and access space, but the challenge we have is that we have had a security solution for quite a while. This year will be about focusing on two important markets including security and workload management. The markets address the Citrix terminal server environment for an end-user, and the desktop and notebook environment. The challenge we face locally is not our lack of channel partners, but the perception people have of our organisation. We are perceived as the nice bit of software that sits on top of Citrix and makes it run really fast. That's historically where we've come from, but we want to be known as a strong player in the security and workload management area.

What are the specific product offerings? SW: The flagship product is the AppSense management suite, which includes Application Manager, Environment Manager and Performance Manager. They are all modular and licensed per server, per desktop. There are three main areas we are focusing on: the Citrix terminal side, the desktop/notebook side; and the non-Microsoft side, which is one of our fastest growing areas. This involves back-end servers, and we are doing a fair bit with VMWare, for example.

What are some of your top channel plans? SW: We are going to be rolling out some new programs. For our channel, we are building a service offering based around security and reporting [security health check and system audit tools] that they can take out to their customers. The channel is not about selling product, they are trying to evolve into service providers, and this program will help them grow their services business. The other program is related to rewarding and giving incentives to our channel to ensure they are adequately rewarded.

Is the company strong in any specific verticals? SW: Health, government and finance have been the fastest growing areas for us globally. Locally, there is also strong growth in the education and general commercial area.

Is the company planning to go after the small to mid-market? SW: While we are typically an enterprise software company, we see opportunities in the mid-market. We're working on a few programs that fit into this space. One is around desktop security and bandwidth management for the broadband wireless cards. Our software will provide the security component and the bandwidth management at the device level. This is suitable for large enterprises and in the SMB space. We are also going to be working with the Microsoft Small Business Server environment. Smaller businesses have one box, one server that their entire business runs on. We are going to have a program in place where they will be including part of our software, the performance management software. It will get installed on one server, and it will secure the box and lock it down.

If you weren't in IT, what would be your second career choice? SW: I'd be a comedian. I have a little dream that within the next five years, I will either succeed or fail in the comedy circuit. I'm already taking steps towards it when I do presentations. When I have 300 people in the room laughing, most probably at me and not with me, that feeds my own little ego.

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