5 for 15: Neville James, NetApp director of channel enablement A/NZ

The keys to 2015 from industry leaders
NetApp director of channels, A/NZ, Neville James.

NetApp director of channels, A/NZ, Neville James.

1. Key channel plays for 2015?

Without a doubt the key play for the channel for this year will be to establish a genuine managed cloud services practice. This practice should focus on helping customers manage different data workloads over multiple Cloud platforms in a hybrid, private and public environment.

Many customers will want to take advantage of cloud economics but very few will migrate all their data centre workloads to the Cloud. By definition they will want to operate in a hybrid environment and that means an added degree of complexity and a real opportunity for managed services.

2. Key technology for 2015?

Cloud ONTAP. NetApp has recently released its data management software in a consumption model format via the AWS marketplace. This gives customers and partners a unique ability to manage data across hybrid environments – leveraging the Cloud where they can to take advantage of the economic advantages of cloud - using a common management platform, but in a genuinely consumption/opex orientated model.

3. Key message to the channel for 2015?

Keep training your people. The requirements of customers are going to get broader in terms of the environments and breadth of applications they will expect channels to manage. To remain relevant and get a genuine competitive advantage then the skills of your people will be paramount. People will more and more buy on the trust they have in your technical staff so continuously developing their skills will be key, as will be partnering with vendors that take an enlightened approach to this – by sharing the cost of training or, in the case of NetApp, completely subsidising formal courses – will be important to the economics of their services practices.

4. Key warning to the channel for 2015?

If you haven’t built a cloud already – don’t. There are already so many very large players in the Cloud computing market that being able to compete against them and the myriad of niche players will be a major challenge. Rather, leverage the economies of scale that are already starting to drive the Cloud provider space. Deliver hybrid solutions on these and private Clouds and build a services stream of income.

5. Key to their company for 2015?

Annuity revenues and cash flow. Margins and profit from hardware sales are becoming ever more challenging and there is no sign of this changing. To build profitable and growing companies, we encourage channel partners to focus on building repeatable and certain annuity revenue streams around hardware sales.