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It would have been easy for partners to go to EMC – NetApp EMEA boss – www.channelweb.co.uk

Austin Powers – JD Hancock



NetApp has heralded the start of a “bolder” new era at its Estonia partner event as it opens up on its 25th anniversary and the launch of its first hyperconverged offering.

Speaking to partners in Tallinn, a host of NetApp executives told partners of the new and improved NetApp as it marks the start of a a new phase¬†following “some tough times”.

NetApp launched its hyperconverged solution, NetApp HCI, last week, which coincided with the storage vendor’s 25th birthday.

“Just last week we celebrated our 25th anniversary as an independent company which for tech companies is quite a standout achievement,” said EMEA marketing director Ashley Robinson. “Not that many tech companies last 25 years and stay as strong as we are today.

“With that milestone that we marked last week we also bring about a bolder NetApp [and] a NetApp that is more relevant to customer challenges than we’ve ever been.

Channel loyalty

Executives highlighted NetApp’s growth in business through partners as testament to its channel commitment, with 82 per cent of business going through partners in NetApp’s last fiscal year.

Alex Wallner, EMEA general manager at NetApp, said the vendor has added over 60 new EMEA employees – including engineers, sales staff and partner managers – as it overhauled its go-to-market strategy.

He said NetApp has also tidied up its product portfolio.

“We have our products sorted out and I think our product portfolio around this transformation [has ended] up being the best we’ve ever had, which is fantastic,” he said.

“I think the most important thing when you talk about success and growing success is usually not strategy, it’s usually not product, but it’s what Austin Powers would call the mojo. I think the mojo is definitely back.”

Wallner added that NetApp is now looking to repay the faith that its partners have shown through this period.

“NetApp made a huge turnaround over the last two or three years,” he said. “When I look at the list of partners attending I saw some new partners which made me very proud, but it made me similarly proud that there are also partners that have been with NetApp for so many years.

“I think we went through some tough times about five years ago when we had this huge change in our infrastructure, and I want to say a big thank you to all the partners who stayed loyal in that time, because it would have been easy to jump on a start-up or go with EMC at that time, or something like that.

“You really stuck with us and I think that is absolutely great. I’m 100 per cent sure that these days that will pay off.”

End of hardware?

As NetApp pushes forward with its hyperconverged, flash and hybrid cloud solutions, Wallner said the vendor has not ruled out ditching hardware and going for a software-only approach, as hardware becomes more commoditised and end users look more towards consumption models.

“People want to consume IT but not buy it,” he said.

“At the last Insight [event] I had an interesting dialogue with a customer who said ‘what will happen to NetApp if it does not ship any hardware any more, it just goes for the software component?’

“I said the business model would change, but I’m not so worried about that because we are one of the very few vendors in the industry that has the opportunity to really decouple the [hardware] from the software, so this would work out.

“We will see where the business models will run; there is no clear answer for NetApp whether three years from now we will still be shipping hardware or if we’ll be a software-relying company.”





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