Cyxtera eyes Europe in new channel push

A map of Europe with nodes to represent data hotspots
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Although the political situation within the EU and UK has put some companies off investing in the region, secure infrastructure and colocation firm Cyxtera has decided to take the plunge and expand its channel partner network in the European market.

The decision follows the opening of two new European data centres this year – one in Frankfurt and one in Amsterdam – as well as the expansion of an existing facility in London.

Tina Gravel, senior vice president of global channel at the company, tells Channel Pro this latest push in the region is far from impulsive and follows a period of consolidation focused on its home market of the USA.

"I took on the channel when we formed two years and what I shared with the management team... is that obviously I wanted to make sure that we got things right in the US where I have a lot of control and access."

Cyxtera's background isn't exactly simple – created from the fusion of four cyber security companies owned by Medina Capital and 57 data centres carved out of CenturyLink, Tina was faced with the task of bringing together five separate channel programmes. Among other things, this included standardising contracts, processes and programmes.

The result is a single channel programme with what Gravel describes largely as "very standard" features. There is one element that Cyxtera believes is somewhat more unique, though.

"We're seeing a morphing of the value-added resellers moving into more of a systems integrator sort of profile," says Gravel. "There's a lot of changes and alterations happening.

"And so our program has flexibility in it to accommodate these new things. We also have what I would call more of a 'plan ahead' marketing development funds. Traditionally, marketing development funds come after you sold something – they are normally provided as a percentage of sales to keep you selling and to help you with your marketing. Because [our] products are new and have not been adopted yet by everyone in the channel ... we're advancing those funds so that we can get folks selling and trained more rapidly than we might have had to in the past," she says.

Now, two years after Cyxtera was formed and one year after an initial "soft launch" in Europe, it has staged the official full launch of its partner programme in the region.

The company has lined up a mixture of local distributors and resellers in Europe, as well as building on relationships with existing American partners that also operate here, such as Megaport.

"There's quite a few distributors that we see in the US that we've talked to about extending our reach over here, including a smaller distributor called Avant – they're one of our key partners in the US and so we're expanding our reach with them. Another is a managed service provider called Unitas Global, and then there's local companies such as Softcat," Gravel explains.

While Cyxtera does the vast majority of its business through the channel, it does have a direct sales team and assigns a direct sales person to every opportunity brought in through the channel.

"We believe that the best way for our partners to know how to sell our product, is to have some supervision or cooperation with our direct team," says Gravel, explaining that this is in large part a result of the company's heritage.

"Being a young company and having things that are really refreshing and new to the business, like the on-demand colocation and this product Appgate, most of the folks that used to sell colocation are not used to selling these innovations, so there is some heavy lifting and hand holding, if you will, that we do and we're happy to do it. We probably won't have to do that forever, but it makes very good sense for us to do it today."

It's a strategy that has worked so far: Since launch, Cyxtera has grown 50% year-on-year. And with its new focus on the channel in Europe, this success looks set to continue.

Jane McCallion
Managing Editor

Jane McCallion is ITPro's Managing Editor, specializing in data centers and enterprise IT infrastructure. Before becoming Managing Editor, she held the role of Deputy Editor and, prior to that, Features Editor, managing a pool of freelance and internal writers, while continuing to specialize in enterprise IT infrastructure, and business strategy.

Prior to joining ITPro, Jane was a freelance business journalist writing as both Jane McCallion and Jane Bordenave for titles such as European CEO, World Finance, and Business Excellence Magazine.