On Monday, CRN announced the 2016 Channel Chiefs. NetApp’s Bill Lipsin, VP of Global Channels, and Scott Strubel, VP of Americas Channel Sales, join Mark Conley, Director of Channel Sales at the recently acquired SolidFire, on the list of top channel executives. In light of this news, Betsey Pashayan, Director of World Wide Channel Marketing, sat down with Bill and Scott to get their thoughts on emerging channel trends, NetApp’s evolving strategy, and how partners will benefit from NetApp’s dynamic portfolio.
Q: How does NetApp’s portfolio reflect the growing market opportunities?
Bill: Flash is one of the fastest growth areas in the data center. Our goal is to help partners keep navigate the dynamic flash market. As customers modernize their data centers and re-architect environments for flash, NetApp partners are able to provide the strongest flash portfolio in the market. NetApp has already seen 400% year-over-year growth in flash product sales…and we just expanded our solutions with the recent acquisition of SolidFire. We’re accelerating growth around key channel solutions-flash, FlexPod, and cDOT-while nurturing emerging products that round out the portfolio.
Q: A lot of exciting things are happening at NetApp right now, many that will benefit Partners. Can you talk a little more about NetApp’s recent SolidFire acquisition and what it means for the NetApp Partner Network?
Scott: Our partners have had tremendous success with NetApp’s existing flash portfolio. As flash begins to replace disk for primary storage, we aim to fuel that growth even more in 2016. NetApp partners can now leverage SolidFire solutions to gain access to new customers, verticals, and high growth use cases across service providers and enterprise data centers globally. Ultimately, with this SolidFire addition, partners can help customers adopt flash for almost any use-case.
Q: So it sounds like SolidFire’s flash architecture will fit nicely into NetApp’s current portfolio. As flash continues to grow, the opportunities for partners grow, right?. Where does FlexPod come into play?
Bill: NetApp’s flash portfolio is an unparalleled rival in the industry. Now we’re getting even more aggressive in targeting flash with FlexPod. Currently, 15% of FlexPod solutions ship with NetApp All Flash FAS (AFF). We expect to more than double that in 2016 thanks to the recent launch of our FlexPod Advantage Campaign with Cisco. The FlexPod Advantage Campaign will include new assets, sales enablement, market awareness, and demand generation all aimed to help partners capitalized on the transition to flash-based converged infrastructure. And it’s not just about innovating our converged infrastructure solution — we are driving demand at a whole new level around flash-based FlexPod. The market is ready, and we are going after it.
Q: So why is FlexPod so unique in the industry?
Bill: With FlexPod, NetApp and Cisco have the highest customer satisfaction for any flash-based convergence infrastructure (CI) solution in the market. We look forward to exceeding customer expectations even more. Converged infrastructure is a $13 billion market and we are committed to not only being the number one player in the CI market, but also helping our partners take advantage of this huge flash opportunity. Working in partnership with Cisco, we are focusing our collective resources to help partners deliver the best CI solution.
Q: Do you think NetApp’s strategy mirrors the evolution of the overarching Channel?
Scott: As the IT channel evolves, we’re seeing markets that are growing and markets that are not. We’re honing in on the areas experiencing growth and helping our partners strategically and successfully go after them. We’re focused on opportunity, which is why we’ve continued to drill down on flash with our products, services, solutions, and partner resources.
Q: As NetApp works to help Partners differentiate themselves in the market, what resources can Partners access to help them better deliver and sell NetApp solutions?
Scott: We ‘ve invested significant effort into helping partners easily understand how to go to market with NetApp solutions-specifically flash, FlexPod, cDOT. We have the proof-points and sales resources. Partners can find it all in Channel Readiness Binders, our one-stop shops for enablement, marketing, incentives, and offers to initiate sales and close deals. And the FlexPod Advantage campaign will shine a light on the all-flash FlexPod solution that leads the CI market.
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