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New Commvault channel chief promises partners greater stability

Mercer Rowe’s pledge of no more “knee-jerk reactions” welcomed by partners

Commvault’s new channel chief has promised partners more consistency in its channel programme.

Mercer Rowe, who was announced global head of channels & alliances at the vendor’s Commvault GO event last week, told Microscope his priority was to introduce “simplicity, predictability and profitability” to the partner programme.

“We need to have predictable programmes that partners can count on that we don’t we don't change regularly. Part of profitability for partners is knowing that if I’m going to make an investment around something, it’s going to stay, that it doesn’t it doesn’t constantly change on me.”

The news will be welcomed by partners which have voiced concerns about the vendor’s tendency to introduce new initiatives but change or withdraw them entirely after only a short period.

“You need more longevity,” Damon Robertson, managing director at UK partner, COOLSPIRiT, told Microscope. “They’ll introduce something and it’s great for three months and then they change their mind and say, ‘that’s not working’ and change it. It’s all about consistency and they’re constantly chasing their tail, all the time.

“But you’ve got to have a long-term policy. Some longevity in the long-term plan, rather than knee-jerk reactions, that’s not working.” Former VMware and IBM exec Rowe agreed that the latest set of changes to the Partner Advantage programme introduced in July will “take time to be become operationalised.”

He said: “It takes time for the partners to really react to them. I would ideally like to see us go through a few quarters and just get an understanding, because I think it’s really important that we allow things to germinate in the field, we allow the benefits of these things to happen. And then at natural inflection points with a lot of notice, and a lot of conversation with partners, we make changes.”

Carmen Sorice, go-to-market chief of staff at Commvault, who has been overseeing channel operations leading up to Rowe’s appointment, said the changes to the Partner Advantage programme followed partner requests for greater simplicity, predictability and financial incentives.

The updates include performance-based rebates and year-end bonus structure, “so they know, based on our programme, how should they invest their technical and field resources, so that over the next 12 months they know how they can get a return on that investment,” said Sorice.

Commvault “found another gear”

Partners at the event have welcomed changes introduced by new CEO Sanjay Mirchandani, which they say breathe new life into the brand. This includes the rollout of the vendor’s first SaaS offering, Metallic, and the acquisition of software-defined storage start-up Hedvig.

“I think they may have struggled in the past. It was always, ‘is it legacy technology, is it complex? That’s been a recurring theme,” Chris Kiaie, CEO of long-term UK Commvault service provider Oriium Consulting, told Microscope, adding “It’s great when you see some of the changing themes, because you can see this is this is a significant change of a business.”

Kiaie added: “In terms of market engagement we’d like to see them embracing strategic channel partnerships or routes to market, so scaling through partners. It’s talked about a lot, but we’d like to see is real execution.”

Elsewhere, Mike Henry, enterprise solutions architect at COOLSPIRiT said Commvault’s technology portfolio is starting to reap the benefits of Mirchandani’s approach: “It’s very much a new image, a new feel to it. I think that’s starting to spawn off a lot on the product side with Hedvig, Activate, Orchestrate. It feels like Commvault now actually have a renewed energy again. I kind of felt the last couple years they have coasted when they’ve been at the top. But at the same time they’ve found another gear and are moving forward with that.”

Elsewhere at Commvault GO, the firm announced another big channel hire in former Cisco channel chief, Edison Peres, as the company’s strategic go-to-market advisor.

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