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A view inside the Bytes and NetApp partnership

It takes more than just online training and MDF funds to build a strong partnership. Byte’s vendor alliances director shares some of the attributes he looks for when partnering up with other companies

Ecosystems, collaboration and cooperation are words that get bandied around the channel on a daily basis, but the importance of getting the relationship right has never been more important for partners in the higher tiers of vendor programmes.

Data specialist NetApp has been talking about the value of relationships with its partners, and used its recent Insight event to roll out more hybrid cloud services that would support the channel.

One of those that is on the receiving end of the vendor’s efforts to improve life with the channel is Bytes Group and its vendor alliances director Adam Thornton.

Over the past three and a half years, Thornton has been particularly focused on driving the Amazon Web Services (AWS) partnership for Bytes, making sure it is in a position to help customers with their cloud journeys. It is against this background that the partnership with NetApp has become even more relevant.

“Over the years, we’ve worked with a number of partners to assist with the delivery of some of our services...what we’ve always struggled with is that we’re working with so many different tools, so many different management consoles, and so many different user interfaces,” he said.

Reducing some of that burden is one of the main ways a vendor can help its partners, and Thornton is particularly keen to take advantage of NetApp’s recent decision to add CloudCheckr to its portfolio to provide more optimisation and management tools for hybrid cloud environments.

“Now in the conversations that we’re having with NetApp, certainly after the announcement about CloudCheckr, we can start to see a roadmap, where we’ve got one vendor that brings everything that we need to the table. What I mean by ‘everything we need’ is the ability to monetise more services for our customers, the ability to engage with a deeper level technically and commercially,” he said.

“This is the future of the NetApp platform with CloudCheckr coming in, with the integration possibilities and the breadth of platform that will give a partner like us [more opportunities],” he added.

As well as products and a decent roadmap, the other attributes that Thornton lists as making a solid partnership include the strength and depth of the vendor’s channel team, as well as the technical and marketing support.

So far, most of the characteristics of the NetApp and Bytes partnership would be mirrored with numerous other vendors and partners, but Thornton is keen to stress that there needs to be a partnering attitude.

“Gone are the days where a customer is not only happy, but comfortable with going to one partner to solve every single problem,” he said. “We see our role as taking away a lot of those unknowns from the customer, presenting them with facts and options, being like the glue that brings it all together.

“It’s working fantastically well. That’s been part of our continued double-digit growth year on year for the past 10 years,” he added.

Thornton’s final point around vendor partnerships is that the relationship has to go both ways, with the partner able to deliver a lot of value if they are given the chance to share feedback.

“For the past three or four years, we have had a really dedicated focus into the area of that market that [customers are] trying to get into, but above and beyond that, the history of Byte’s business over the past 10 years has been about public cloud. We have a well-versed sales team going in and knocking at the door of the customer and asking the right questions,” he concluded.

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