Net Apps CEO to bypass Aussie channel

Net Apps CEO to bypass Aussie channel

Dan Warmenhoven, CEO of storage vendor Network Appliance, said yesterday that the company's decision to sell direct in Australia and New Zealand is pure "opportunism" and a practice not mirrored by the company in any other country.

Addressing a press conference in Sydney, Warmenhoven gave no indication of the company altering its ANZ strategy, which sees 95 per cent of products sold direct. He asserted that large customers feel more comfortable having a close relationship with vendors.

However Michael Burnie, managing director of Network Appliance Australia, said the vendor will be announcing a local channel structure within weeks.

Opportunistic intentions aside, he agreed it appears the company can't escape the necessity of having VARs to reach the small-to-medium enterprises, which dominate the Australian landscape and represent the best growth opportunities.

Meanwhile, Warmenhoven was not "pumping sunshine" about the global economic status, flatly refusing to make predictions for the future. He said the slowdown happened so quickly and severely he never suspected it.

"On January 1, it was like the whole economy stopped. I concluded from that that my crystal ball was broken, so I stopped forecasting," Warmenhoven joked in earnest. He indicated it was unlikely Net Apps would make the 70 per cent growth it has enjoyed for 21 consecutive quarters. The company posted $780.4 million for the last three quarters.

Warmenhoven also downscaled IDC's prediction for 20 per cent growth globally in the storage sector for 2001, saying 10 per cent was more realistic. At the same time, he feels Australia and the Asia-Pacific region has been particularly strong compared to North America and Europe. "We're gaining market share during this period," Warmenhoven said.

While Net Apps is competing fiercely with EMC, the greatest current focus globally is taking market share from computer vendors who offer storage components in their servers such as Compaq, Sun, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

Warmenhoven believes that both storage area networks (SANs) and network attached storage (NAS) will not only thrive but combine by 2003. Net Apps is currently manufacturing a Brocade switch as part of its solution to facilitate this, and expects most other vendors to follow suit if they can.

Meanwhile, Warmhoven said Network Appliance has officially opened its support centre in Singapore, which will service an area ranging from Japan to India and from South Australia to Korea.

Photograph: Dan Warmenhoven, CEO of storage vendor Network Appliance

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