This week we sat down with Regina Kunkle, NetApp’s Vice President, America’s Channel, to discuss how partners are helping customers navigate during a time of IT transition.
Q: The role of IT in organizations is rapidly evolving. With customers transitioning to new IT approaches, what opportunities does this pose for partners?
A: With the changing buying patterns of consumers, and the need to respond quickly to social media, our customers are faced with new demands to make IT respond to business today. As a result, IT departments are evaluating the role of new technologies and consumption models, to address a growing urgency to focus on self-service approaches to IT, to better respond to business needs of today and tomorrow. CIOs are becoming brokers of information services that support varying departments across all levels of an organization – this means they are more heavily dependent on partners to help design and support their IT infrastructure.
Q: How does that opportunity change relationships between vendors and partners? Are some vendors now competing with partners? How does the cloud create new lines of partnering today?
A: Partners are faced with solving new and complex customer IT challenges requiring them to evolve their solution offerings and consumption models. As a result of these changes in consumption models and customer needs, some vendors/manufacturers have offered solutions that compete directly with partners. Rather than offer competing models, NetApp encourages our partners to add new business capabilities and pursue new markets to grow revenue and increase their profits. NetApp’s diverse partner ecosystem that includes technology partners, services partners, and selling partners is well-positioned to help customers transition to new IT consumption models.
Q: As the industry evolves, what does that evolution mean regarding the type of partners NetApp will require to help fulfill customer needs? What is NetApp doing to evolve the relationship with current partners today?
A: Solving a sophisticated enterprise customer’s data management challenges can be a complicated task. NetApp focuses and invests in partners who are committed to selling, architecting, integrating and servicing these types of customers and challenges. We work with best-of-breed partners with complementary skills and solutions. NetApp’s commitment to our partners’ success is a central tenant to our business strategy. We are investing in programs focused on solution selling and driving greater efficiency across all of our go-to-market efforts. Because of the type of integration services required in our market, we believe that partners build a more profitable business with NetApp. Unlike other vendors, we don't compete with partners for services. We encourage our partners to provide a broad range of services and solutions.
Q: NetApp has rolled out many new products and innovations in the last year, what is your view on what opportunity that presents for partners? How is NetApp presenting a unique opportunity to partners today and going forward?
A: With the advent of flash technology and solid-state drives, storage technology has changed a great deal in the last 3 years. NetApp’s refresh of its product line offers customers the most state-of-the-art storage technology available on the market today, with high performance and a compelling price point. Customers want to take advantage of these new technologies, performance and consumption models to stay competitive and keep pace with data growth. This transition is a significant opportunity for NetApp partners to serve the needs of these customers and to accelerate growth. Customers value NetApp and our partners’ expertise, collaboration and passion for helping them achieve the outcomes that matter most to them. We continue to invest in business opportunities that advance our leadership in storage and data management.
Q: NetApp's approach to the cloud with clustered Data ONTAP as a universal data platform is unique, what competitive opportunity does this pose for partners today? What about NetApp's flash or SDS offerings?
A: The interesting dilemma facing customers today making a decision about using the Cloud is: 1) How do you get your data back if after years of putting it in the Cloud the price-point is not what you thought it would be? 2) Your cloud provider has not met your expectations? Getting your data back with some competitive solutions can be impossible. NetApp offers customers an enterprise data management solution, with clustered Data ONTAP at its core, to seamlessly manage and maintain control of their data, whether it is moving data to the cloud, moving from one cloud provider to another, or more importantly, bringing it back on premise as needed. Partners are critical in helping customers determine what data should be located where, and helping to architect the best ways to leverage the cloud.
Regarding flash and SSD – these are great technologies if a customer has a specific application where performance is paramount. We find a number of our customers leveraging this technology when there is a large enterprise application like an ERP application, or when they have a database that needs to perform better. We have a program called “Flash My Database” which essentially applies flash technology to a database and improves its overall performance. Customers and partners are excited about the opportunity flash and SSDs bring to their infrastructures.