IN THE HOT SEAT: Wilson’s world

Each week in ARN, we interview the local channel manager of some of the world’s most influential hardware and software vendors. This week, CA’s Chris Wilson sits down with Sarah Stokely.

What brought you to CA and more specifically to managing its channel?

Chris Wilson (CW): I come from a programming background. At university I did chemical engineering, then I got a job as a trainee programmer for Westpac. I was there for seven years before joining Goal Systems, which got acquired by Legent Corporation in about 1992. I rose to the lofty heights of systems engineering manager, looking after the technical people. We got acquired by CA in 1995.

At CA, I was in a product marketing role for enterprise management products. Then I became marketing director for A/NZ but it wasn’t really my cup of tea. I’m more sales oriented than marketing or development oriented. So after about a year-and-a-half I wanted to be closer to the customer. Back around 1997 we acquired Cheyenne. CA didn’t have a channel until then. It gave us ACRserve and our AV technology — with that we acquired a channel.

What is the current status of CA’s distribution channel?

CW: We have a one-tier partner program and strategic business alliances. At the moment we have four distributors [ACA Pacific, Express Data, Ingram Micro and Tech Pacific].

Any update on the distribution review?

CW: We’ve completed an external review of our channel business. A lot of recommendations came back, including the fact that we’re overdistributed.

A lot of the distribution business at the moment is quite similar, and I don’t want four broadbased distributors. We’re conducting a tender process to establish our new distribution line-up. We will be able to articulate the value each distributor adds to our business. That process is expected to be complete by May 1.

How are the product lines split between the distributors? Is that set to change as part of the distribution review?

CW: All distributors have equal access to CA Workgroup products for both the Storage and Security range. ACA Pacific is currently signed for the additional range of enterprise storage products as a value-added distributor.

How many resellers on the books? Are all products available to all partners?

CW: CA has more than 700 partners that fall into the overall Channel Partner Program, of which there are a variety of levels. A small number form part of our tier-1 program, allowing access to all products within the storage and security range.

Are you aiming to increase your reseller base and if so, in what vertical markets or geographic areas?

CW: Our current affiliate level (within our overall Channel Partner Program) allows room for further expansion of partners across all verticals and geographies.

How has CA been performing? What are the key products or markets for you this year?

CW: Computer Associates is currently in the final quarter of our fiscal year. It is looking to close the year out with strong growth in security (specifically in the content management area with software such as eTrust Secure Content Manager) and storage (surrounding the enhancements to BrightStor ARCserve Backup Release 11 and Storage Assessment tools such as BrightStor Storage Resource Manager).

We made a move last October to broaden the reach of our relatively new retail business by using Tech Pacific. We’re currently supplying Retravision, Officeworks and are looking to start a partnership with Dick Smith.

You’re bringing in a new channel program. What can you tell us about it?

CW: CA is bringing in a new services-focused channel program from April. The Authorised Services Sales Partner (ASSP) and Authorised Services Development Partner (ASDP).

We’re starting to work with partners to develop solutions around software and hardware services. From our point of view there will be a lot of consolidation of systems integrators and resellers going forward. Resellers are struggling to add value and they’re looking to vendors such as CA.

The new channel program, rather than being based on revenue, is based on the business requirement or the business the partners operate in. For example, resellers will package storage resource management as a solution.