Cloud Provider independenceIT Tackles 'Channel Eclipse' With New CEO, COO


Cloud provider independenceIT aims to take its channel-only model to the next level and compete against larger cloud competitors following the appointment of new executive leadership.

The Allentown, Penn.-based desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) provider promoted Jim Lippie to CEO from executive vice president of business development, replacing co-founder Charles "Chip" Buck. Lippie joined iIT earlier this year after serving as CEO of Thrive Networks, the MSP division of Staples. Also part of the change, Seth Bostock was promoted to president and COO from his former position as vice president of corporate development.

The change in leadership works to combat what Lippie called the "channel eclipse," where vendors such as Microsoft are switching from using the channel to selling more products directly -- a practice that iIT maintained it wouldn't follow.

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The pair has already helped lead a 200 percent year-over-year partner growth for iIT through pursuing a channel-only sales model for its flagship product Cloud Workspace Suite, a turn-key DaaS platform. It's all part of the company's goal of working to expand the channel's awareness of iIT and the importance of cloud computing to the future of the channel industry, Lippie said.

"Ultimately the changes [in leadership] are about accelerating those incentives that will achieve that objective," Lippie said.

Last May, iIT rolled out its latest version of the Cloud Workspace Suite after seeing increasing demand and attention paid to the cloud. The product is designed to help customers make a seamless transition to the cloud and, following the company's trend, is only available to partners through its exclusive channel. Sales are high, and partners are responding positively to the new product, Bostock said.

"I think it's absolutely essential that these MSPs and VARs incorporate these solutions into their portfolios, otherwise they're going to get left behind," Lippie said, a former MSP himself. "Because we are channel only, that is certainly very meaningful for us. The viability of the channel is very important. We're here to educate them and make sure they have the products to compete."

Next up for iIT, Bostock said the company plans to roll out more educational programs, work to develop strategic relationships with its customers and continue to develop its main product, Cloud Workspace Suite, to make it even more streamlined and efficient.

The future for the channel, both executives said, lies in its ability to offer the cloud to its customers. As the market continues to shift toward cloud-based products, solution providers will be missing out if they fail to offer it to their customers as part of a product or a package, Bostock said.

"For me, it's as simple as: If partners today are not talking to their partners about it, someone else is," said Bostock. "Whether it's Google, Microsoft or another partner that's actually been more in tune with where the market is -- someone's talking to them, so they better have that conversation or they're going to lose that business. To this point, we give them the ability to compete but also give them their own ability to create their own solution."

Going forward, the newly-promoted executives said that existing channel partners of iIT should not expect much to change right away. The plan set in place for the coming year, prior to the switch, will remain the same.

"We're going to continue to stay focused on the plan and really focus on the right folks and the right places within our organization," Bostock said. "But then also, externally, making sure we're educating and working with our partners to help them combat the channel eclipse."

PUBLISHED AUG. 8, 2013