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NetApp pointing partners to hybrid multicloud future

Vendor’s view of the world has been validated by the response to the pandemic and it wants partners to accelerate customer cloud adoption

NetApp’s positioning as a cloud player has come at a time when customers are heading in that direction quicker than ever before and, as a result, more opportunities are emerging for its partners.

The vendor held its Insight event last week, with the focus very much on how its Data Fabric strategy is in tune with what the market needs right now. Sessions covering cloud storage and services aimed at customers who were looking for virtual workspaces were accompanied by promotion of the potential of its latest acquisition, Spot Storage, to improve the administration options for those operating in containers.

From a channel perspective, Kristian Kerr, vice-president of NetApp’s Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) partner organisation, was keen to stress that the pandemic has accelerated customers’ move to cloud.

“Over the past seven months, every customer I speak to [has brought] their digital agenda forward by months, if not years. So there’s a big sense of urgency in mobilising their resources and building out a digital infrastructure so they can continue to do business with their customers,” he said.

“Front and centre of that transformation is cloud. Cloud has been an enabler for a large chunk of business to continue to do business over recent months. I don’t think there’s any question now in any partner or customer’s mind that hybrid multicloud is the de facto.”

Kerr said partners were being encouraged to help customers unlock the cloud by controlling costs, helping them accelerate transformations and to make sure that everything that sold is cloud-connected.

“We will question partners and customers if they’re about to embark on their next investment cycle infrastructure if it’s not cloud-connected. We don’t want them to [reach] a dead-end, we want to provide them with a journey to that hybrid multicloud,” he said.

The lesson of the past few months has been to provide flexibility in services to respond to changing demands, according to Kerr.

He added that in talking to customers it had become clear that there was a cloud maturity gap, and although many had the desire to embrace a hybrid multicloud model, most did not have the internal skills to support that ambition.

“Ultimately, they are going to look out into the partner ecosystem. What we have seen over the last months is that those partners that are a bit more agile and early adopters in the cloud space have done extremely well,” he added. “The partners that have stood up earlier on and said that they would invest in that cloud practice and expertise have come across stronger.

“That cloud skills and maturity gap is increasing and we have a large focus in terms of enablement training and the consultancy workshops we are having with partners, so we can help them build out services.”

Kerr said there were opportunities for partners to monetise around consultancy and migration services and encouraged more to take that approach.

“There’s never been a better time to be at NetApp than right now. The portfolio is evolving, if you look at the partnerships we’ve built with public cloud providers and look at our recent results,” he said.

Kerr added that the pandemic had “really accelerated a whole movement to the cloud” and that NetApp had “been sort of leading that for the last couple of years”.

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