‘He Was Born For This Role’

With a buzzer-beater finish and tens-of-thousands of votes cast, Scale Computing’s Scott Mann has won CRN’s prestigious Channel Madness Tournament of Chiefs this year, besting 31 of the world’s most influential channel leaders.

“He was born for this role,” said George Jabra, president of Ascent Data, a Pittsburgh-based Scale Computing partner. “He’s been a great asset for us and our growth as a company. He’s always been there for us when we need him and even when we don’t need him. … When I see him, he talks to me about all our clients. It’s like we’re the only client he has.”

Bruce Rosen, CEO and founder of IT Service ArchiTechs, said: “Scott is a true champion” of the channel.

“He is highly motivated, passionate about technology and has limitless energy,” said Rosen. “He treats partners like gold and goes the extra mile to help when needed.”

In CRN’s 2022 Channel Madness Tournament of Chiefs, Mann was able to overcome channel legend Frank Rauch, channel chief of Check Point Software Technologies, in the championship round with 56 percent of the final vote count, compared to Rauch’s 44 percent.

“I say this to all the partners: I get the privilege of being the face of all of this, but when you’re voting, you’re not voting for me, you’re voting for Scale,” said Mann in an interview with CRN. “We’ve built Scale on the backs of our partners. … They’re an extension of our team. So it’s a win for me, it’s a win for Scale, but it’s a win for all of our partner community as well.”

Mann was able to defeat top-notch channel chiefs including a Round 4 victory over Shannon Sbar of Schneider Electric and a Round 3 triumph over Dynabook Americas’ Richard Vaughn. He also beat out HP Inc.’s Scott Lannum in Round 2, following his Round 1 win over Hitachi Vantara’s Kimberly King.

Mann’s Winning Strategy: ‘Letting My Competitive Nature Out’

Although Mann has competed in prior Channel Madness tournaments, his strategy this year was different as he was “more outgoing” and proactive with partners asking them to take the time to vote.

“I had a ton of partners sharing it on LinkedIn and everything. I had partners sharing like their lunchroom where there’s a whole team voting for me. So it was just that approach of being a little bit more embracing of the competitive spirit, and letting my competitive nature out,” said Mann, vice president of sales, ROW and global channel chief at Scale Computing.

Mann first joined the company in 2014 as a senior account executive but was quickly promoted to Director of North American Channel within a few years. He leads the Indianapolis-based company’s worldwide channel charge focused on driving edge computing and hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) partner wins.

Mann was influential in helping grow Scale Computing’s channel bookings in 2021 by 36 percent year over year.

Partners say both their Scale Computing sales and margins are up this year thanks to Mann’s channel strategy and leadership. For example, Scale Computing partner Ascent Data recently needed some margin help on a deal.

“We made an honest mistake with our margin pricing for a client. I called Scale, I said, ‘We’re not making a good margin on this. I know that your margin on it is tight.’ And they were like, ‘Give us five minutes. We’ll call you back.’ They called me back and they made sure they cut from their own margin to make sure we got a good margin on it. So when I say they’re always here for us, I mean it,” said Ascent Data’s Jabra. “[Mann’s Channel Madness win] is very well deserved. … Scale has a great technology, but technology without people interaction is worthless. Scott is the link that got us introduced to Scale.”

Mann has been critical in evolving Scale Computing’s channel program and is an industry titan when it comes to onboarding new partners.

IT Service ArchiTechs’ Rosen said Mann is the reason why his company partners with Scale Computing.

“When I first met Scott about three years ago at a conference, I had no idea what Scale was or what the company did. By the end of the conference, I was fully versed on the product and its value,” said Rosen. “Scott devoted time to educating our team on hyperconvergence and the competitive advantage of Scale Computing. Since then, we’ve done many projects with Scott’s team that have been profitable for is and beneficial to our clients. Scott continues be there for us when needed and has surrounded himself with one of the best teams in the channel.”

Check Point’s Frank Rauch Places Second

Right on Mann’s heals in the Champion Round was Check Point channel chief Frank Rauch, who is a longtime partner advocate with decades of executive channel leadership, placed second this year. This follows another stellar showing by Rauch who came in second place in CRN’s 2021 Channel Madness Tournament of Chiefs.

Rauch put up a great fight this year, defeating Veeam Software’s Kevin Rooney, edging out CyCognito’s Lori Cornmesser, beating Crowdstrike’s Michael Rogers and overcoming Proofpoint’s Joe Sykora along the way.

“Hey, partners—we tried,” Rauch said in a concession speech to CRN. “We tried hard. More importantly, you try. I want to let you know I appreciate every message, every vote, your confidence. Let’s get them again next year.”

Despite the loss, Rauch said he’s “humbled” by the voting turnout from Check Point partners. Partners as a whole have dealt with so much turmoil the past year – from COVID-19 to remote working to wave after wave of cyberattacks—to take time to support Check Point for Channel Madness.

“So many great Twitter posts, LinkedIn posts. People that I haven’t heard from in a little while. People that I’ve met on a journey that I’ve had in my career 10 years ago, reconnecting. I’m really, really humbled to be here,” said Rauch, one of the most influential channel leaders in the industry.

He continued: “The partners are absolutely remarkable. They’re resilient. They’re creative, and they’re adaptive. Especially going from thousands of physical events to virtual events. But more importantly, the outreach from partners. Whether it was the situation in Ukraine, whether it was during COVID. Basically partners helping communities, working with us, Check Point, working with other great companies to be able to make a difference.”

Rauch joined Check Point in 2019 and has the formal title of worldwide head of channel sales. Rauch has been a stalwart in the channel, joining VMware in 2012 as Americas channel chief and coming to HP with its acquisition of Compaq.

Partner: ‘Nobody More Gracious And Good Natured’ Than Rauch

Kevin Casson, vice president of national security solutions at San Antonio-based Check Point partner Sirius Computer Solutions—a member of CRN’s 2022 Managed Service Provider 500 – told CRN in an interview that it was his pleasure to support Rauch in the competition.

“There’s probably nobody more gracious and good natured,” Casson said. “He is somebody who is in gauges in the competition with great joy and life. But win or lose, it’s the thrill of the hunt and the competition that I think Frank loves.”

Speaking with CRN after Check Point’s CPX event in Denver this week, Casson said that he’s a fan of the company’s partner program because Check Point never tries to merely sell him on the technology, “but letting us see and understand the technology.”

“They’re very, very honest and integrity laden about how they do business with the channel,” he said. “They’re not prescriptively telling us how they’ll do business but rather approaching us and bouncing ideas off of us—but then being very open to how do we best do business with them.”

Scale Computing Is Not Channel-First, But ‘Channel-Only’

Scale Computing’s channel chief and winner of CRN’s 2022 Channel Madness Tournament of Chiefs was humble in his victory.

Mann said Scale Computing partners are an “extension of our family” which can be felt in the way the company engages, builds channel programs and supports solution providers in the field.

“The channel is in our DNA. Working with partners, that’s part of our DNA. It’s an extension of us as a company. Where I think we really differentiated is that, it’s not like we’re a channel-first organization—we’re a channel-only organization,” said Mann. “So we lead with the channel every single step of the way and we bring our partners in every single thing that we do—whether it’s building out new products and having them help with giving us feedback on beta for the products, or its go-to-market strategies on a new solution that we’re coming out with, or it’s just bringing them into the sales cycle and making sure that they know that we’re in there with them together through thick and through thin—from the start of the sale until the inevitable win that we’re going to get with them.”

Mann said the Channel Madness victory isn’t only his, but a win for Scale Computing partners and employees.

“Honestly, I’ve been just completely overwhelmed with the wave of support that we’ve gotten from partners and internally at Scale too—family, friends, everybody. I’ve been in Channel Madness a couple other years. This year, it’s been like no other for me. So it’s about our partners and our internal Scalers,” said Mann. “We’re at a point where everybody just believes that we have the right to be here and that we should be winning this. … Thank you so much for everyone who voted for me.”

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