The ambition at NetApp is to take market share and grow the business, with the strategy being to get closer to channel partners to enable that outcome.
Leading the charge is recently appointed channel lead for the UK and Ireland, Sonya Mathieu, who has been with the business for four months. She believes one of the reasons NetApp wanted her for the channel role was because of her track record in delivering transformation.
“We and our channel partners are going through a massive transformation when we’re looking at changing our business models or adapting to the massive demand and opportunity in public cloud,” she said.
“NetApp is ruthlessly focused, and I am ruthlessly focused, on taking market share, and doing that by leveraging our partners’ capability and meeting our partners, as well as our customers, wherever they are on the journey,” she added.
That commitment to meeting partners where they are involves offering training, encouraging certifications, and providing support and encouragement to sell across the portfolio.
“It’s been really exciting to see how our partners have embraced building services around our data management capabilities,” she said. “Our partners are building services around helping their customers understand where they are at, from a data perspective, and how to derive value from that data.”
The door remains open for channel partners to sign up to work with NetApp, but a lot of Mathieu’s focus is on deepening relationships with its existing channel.
“We will be going deeper with fewer partners. We feel strongly that that’s the right approach. If we look at Partner Sphere [the forthcoming partner programme], which we'll be launching in Q2 of this year, it’s exactly around that and making sure we are investing in them, we’re leaning into them, we’re helping them build services that are relevant from their business, and we’re rewarding their unique capabilities,” she said.
As well as Partner Sphere, the vendor also recently launched its C Series affordable flash offering, which it is encouraging its channel to take out to the installed base and talk about the sustainability credentials of the technology and the benefit of reduced energy costs.
“Our partners have the ability to drive those business cases to demonstrate overall cost savings, so we see it as a big opportunity to help, and everybody is stepping up to be able to deliver that,” she said.
The channel can expect Mathieu and her team to build on NetApp’s long-standing commitment to the two-tier model, with Partner Sphere coming and the technology available to get customers spending.
“We’ve got the right strategy and we have the right partnerships – it’s just about execution now. We rely heavily on the distributors we work with to help scale and take market share in that commercial space. They have been really great at helping get behind a lot of the programmes we’re launching.
“Looking at the wider ecosystem, we’ve got our top-tier partners, [with] programmes in place to help them accelerate, help them with their sales motions, help them with the messaging. I think we've got a really strong plan as we move into our next year, and everybody is committing the time and resources to be able to really leverage that,” she said.