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Commercial sales fuel high channel revenues at NetApp

Data specialist NetApp has seen its channel business hit record levels thanks to the growth in demand from the partner-facing customer base

Increasing demand from commercial customers has seen NetApp’s channel revenues in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) hit 91%, with the data specialist looking to keep that momentum going.

To do this, Kristian Kerr, NetApp’s vice-president for partners, EMEA, said that it was encouraging resellers to pull on the alliances the firm had made to deliver a wider solution.

“The reason why [channel revenues have increased] is because our commercial business is growing faster than enterprise and the commercial business is partner-led, so a lot of that is transacted through the channel,” he said.

“It’s working more proactively with our alliance partners to build and offer solutions that are focused on certain workloads, so it could be AI [artificial intelligence], DevOps, or enterprise applications. The customers I speak to are expecting the vendors to come together to help them solve a business issue,” he added. “We see leaning on alliances as important to support enterprise customer demand.”

NetApp has also been working with vertical partners to “build its relevance into repeatable solutions”, looking to make sure it can increase its foothold in areas such as manufacturing and finance.

Other moves being made by Kerr include focusing on the “must win areas” from a technology point of view, which include AI, DevOps, cloud, and enterprise applications.

“It’s about working with our partners so we can build joint solutions and offerings so we can address new buying centres. A lot of the budget in DevOps, AI or even tier-one applications like SAP does not always sit within IT, so we need to expand our footprint into existing accounts by breaking into new buying centres,” he said.

The commercial market is the fastest growing market for NetApp, and the firm is looking to develop solutions, bundles and offerings that would appeal to partners. An example of that is the Express Packs that have been only available through the channel for the past 18 months, as pre-priced and right-sized options for customers.

“For us, it is about leaning heavily on distribution – Arrow, and Tech Data, in the UK – and making sure we provide them with all the tools, platforms and lead-generation campaign materials so they can go out and support commercial sales through their managed partners,” he said.

Kerr added that the firm had also invested in a 30-strong inside sales team that was tasked with driving more demand for partners by sparking more activity in the commercial market. This is part of the reason as to why the channel has been able to bring on board 800 new logos in the first three-quarters of the year across EMEA.

The vendor held its Insight event in London earlier this week, with cloud connectivity one of the main themes, and Kerr said that it was also looking to get more of its channel partners involved with the technology.

“How can we, with our partners, challenge the traditional three-tier IT architectures and transition them to private and hybrid cloud?” he asked.

With the firm pushing more towards the cloud, leaning on relationships with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft and Google, the channel base has widened with some of the born-in-the-cloud businesses looking to come forward, but Kerr added that it wanted to support its loyal partner base.

“The traditional partner base we have grown up with over the years – we want to protect, manage and grow that business. We want to help them absorb more of our technology and skill-enablement activities to get them cloud ready,” he added.

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