Automation Takes Center Stage In The Channel - InformationWeek

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1/31/2011
04:01 PM
Michele Warren
Michele Warren
Commentary
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Automation Takes Center Stage In The Channel

SMBs, you've probably been wracking your brain for the past few years to come up with ways to do more with less. And you've probably harnessed all your creativity and tenacity to pull it off, right? But if you're finally running out of ideas, you might want to consider deploying process automation software.

SMBs, you've probably been wracking your brain for the past few years to come up with ways to do more with less. And you've probably harnessed all your creativity and tenacity to pull it off, right? But if you're finally running out of ideas, you might want to consider deploying process automation software.I wrote about this last year, in November, comparing automation software to a robot that does things for you at the office. I'm not talking about fetching your coffee or running out during your lunch hour to pick up a birthday gift for your nephew. By things, I'm referring to IT- and business process-related things, such as automatic backups, event log monitoring, and job scheduling. You know, the mundane, scripted tasks that pull you away from more exciting, productive items on your agenda, like dreaming up new products or, say, running your business.

C'mon, everybody's doing it. Well, not everyone, but a fair share. Network Automation, a Los Angeles-based company that specializes in automation software, reported growth of 21% in Q2 of its 2011 fiscal year, which ended Dec. 31, 2010. The company also signed on 83 new customers and eight global channel partners. And guess what? SMBs account for about half of Network Automation's client base.

Gary Bishop, CEO of the vendor, credits much of its growth to the channel. "Building our partner base is a way for us to scale that much faster," he says. "Every time we add a partner, we're effectively extending our sales force without incurring any additional costs." Indirect sales grew 33% from Q1 to Q2, contributing to 37% of Network Automation's overall revenue in the second quarter, and Bishop adds that three-quarters of the company's SMB customers purchase automation software through their channel partners.

GlobalSCAPE, an ISV that sells its data exchange and file sharing solutions to enterprises and SMBs alike, has had an OEM relationship with Network Automation for the past two years or so, embedding the vendor's technology in its own products. This year, the San Antonio, Texas-based software developer will start reselling Network Automation's products as well.

"When you're talking about managed file transfer, there's usually some automation involved, so Network Automation helps us fill in the gaps," says Chris Thacker, business development manager at GlobalSCAPE. "Once data goes from point A to point B, there's generally something else that has to happen to it. Files may need to be converted or routed to specific locations, for example. That's where automation comes in."

Network Automation's channel isn't confined to the United States; it spans the globe. In Brazil, for example, a company called Growtec is enjoying success on the VM (virtual machine) automation front, and in the U.K., longtime partner QBS Software continues to see growing demand for automation products among its customers. "Our client shave been implementing IT process automation technology with greater frequency and on a larger scale than ever before," said Skye Quin, director of QBS, in a press release.

Another thing that's giving Network Automation a shot in the arm, according to Bishop, is the fact that the vendor added automation capabilities for the cloud to its latest product release, AutoMate 8. "Analysts are talking about the promise of the cloud, but also about the added complexity that cloud computing can bring to organizations," Bishop says. "That complexity is further fueling the demand for automation.

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