Flash and hybrid Cloud plays are the main areas of investment for computer storage and data management company, NetApp. According to the company’s A/NZ channel manager, Neville James, these technology areas present many opportunities for the channel and will be what the company looks to in 2016.
James indicated 2016 and beyond is about data in motion but the company will not be building Clouds or competing with its partners on services.
“Unlike most of our competitors, we’ve stuck through on this. We see our channel partners as best placed to be the builder of Clouds. So we have no desire and no plans whatsoever to build Clouds and end up as quasi-competitors to them,” he said.
“And hardware sales doesn’t create much revenue – that was the world 10 years ago. So services is where our partners make money and we have to stand back and let our partners be providers of services for healthy margins.”
According to James, historically, the storage industry has been quite heavily skewed towards reducing cost. He said that is still important for customers but as the industry tries to get more productivity into its language and how it does business, the concept of speeding up time to market is important and plays strongly into storage vendors from a flash perspective.
James said more workloads and IT environments are going to be flash enabled but said the challenge for the channel is to get a common management platform across the various nuanced environments that they’re going to run.
“The growth in that particular segment is stellar – faster than anything else our company has ever seen. It’s a positive conversation to have. Having a data fabric story and a common management platform sits across flash, a disk environment, or back-up to Cloud environment,” he mentioned.
Another area of growth, according to James, is back-up to the Cloud.
“Customers are talking a lot around their Cloud strategy and believe they need a migration to the Cloud strategy but they are a bit apprehensive about putting their applications into it whereas putting their back-up environment into the Cloud seems to be the something that they are prepared to do more readily,” he said.
From a channel centric perspective in the Australian marketplace, the company will also continue to push on in terms of its converged infrastructure business.
“That’s another area the marketplace is becoming more and more keen on, especially with reference architect type solutions where major vendors have partnered together,” James said.
He added that a data fabric, hybrid Cloud play will be a key area of focus moving into 2016.
“It seems to be resonating a lot with customers that want to have a Cloud strategy. The migrating to Cloud in 2016 will continue. That ship has left and it will continue to sail. But our industry continues to grapple with customers that are nuanced in terms of going about it.
“Customers will go all public or all private is probably an outdated concept these days. The likelihood is that most, if not all, customers will pick a hybrid outcome. So if you haven’t built a Cloud, don’t because organisations like Microsoft, Amazon, Telstra and Fujitsu are investing heavily in it.”
The channel can also expect more from NetApp in terms of technical enablement and channel engagement by migrating its direct partners across to the channel.
“It was only about eight years ago that NetApp was a 100 per cent direct sales organisation with no real channel at all. Gradually, we migrated all but a few customers now into our channel partners. And we will be working on this.”
“Only last year, we went from a single distie to a dual distie model and now having both Westcon and Distribution Central as our partners has resulted in our revenue growth so we have no plans to change this model either up or down,” he said.