This year will finally concede that hybrid multi-cloud will be the most predominant technology going forward. Kaushal Veluri, Director, Channel Ecosystem, NetApp India talks about the company’s channel strategies for 2020
What have been the key highlights of 2019 and how do you see 2020 to be shaping up as important year for the IT channel industry?
2019 was a year of innovation – and disruption – for both the IT industry and the broader business community.
Hybrid, multi-cloud environment became almost the de-facto infrastructure standard across organisations. Core hardware infrastructure partners had to re-skill themselves and their teams to align with the changing customer requirements for a hybrid cloud world. While some partners initiated their journey to the cloud with hyperscaler relationships and pass through licenses, the more astute and strategic partners quickly understood that it was more important to form a distinct cloud team which would also help the customers with their assessment and migration needs.
NetApp, with our Data Fabric philosophy and strategy combined with the strong hyperscaler relationships, ensured that we had the competitive edge in an ever-evolving market. Our new initiatives along with our existing solutions and offerings help our partners to form a strategic plan for their journey to the cloud with our solutions and offerings.
Last year, we inked a strategic partnership with Google Cloud Advance to help customers with tightly integrated, enterprise-class data solutions that are optimised and validated for Google Cloud. We also announced ONTAP 9.6 to enable businesses maximise the value of their data. Our cloud-connected flash solutions, an element of a Data Fabric strategy, provides simplicity, operational efficiency and protection required to support innovation, add unprecedented performance and power the most demanding data sets and technologies, such as artificial intelligence or 5G networks.
2020 will demand a lot from partners in the new world. In the short term, with the Covid-19 pandemic, the partners will have to play a key role in helping their customers maintain their infrastructure and support the new “work-from-home” world. Their ability to help their customers, working with vendors like NetApp, will be key to ensure smooth functioning of the ecosystem. NetApp is working closely with our partners to help them draft the new business continuity solutions for their customers.
In the long term, 2020 will be the year of AI, IoT, DevOps and containerisation, and it is critical that partners acquire the skills to support their customer’s strategy.
In the AI space, NetApp launched the AI Centre of Excellence (CoE) with NVIDIA in Bangalore. The AI CoE helps create an environment to provide customers and partners a better understanding of the role of AI and to deploy it to their advantage in a competitive environment.
We also recently announced the acquisition of Talon storage, a leader in next generation software-defined storage solutions that will enable enterprises to centralise and consolidate IT storage infrastructure to the public clouds. With the combination of NetApp Cloud Volumes technology and Talon FAST software, enterprises can seamlessly centralise data in the cloud while still maintaining a consistent branch office experience. NetApp’s acquisition of Talon enhances the company’s cloud data services portfolio with a market-leading solution that solves all the remote office and branch office challenges with file shares.
Can you point out the top three technology trends which the channel community should be betting on and why?
The demand for simplicity and customisability will drive IT purchasing decisions in 2020. Vendors will need to provide customers innovative, flexible technologies with the choice of how to use and consume these technologies to meet evolving business requirements.
Achieving this simplicity will be the foundation for companies as they navigate the exciting technological trends we’ve identified below:
As the advent of 5G makes AI-driven IoT a reality, edge computing environments are primed to become even more disruptive than cloud was. In preparation for the widespread emergence of 5G, lower-cost sensors and maturing AI applications will be leveraged to build compute-intensive edge environments, laying the groundwork for high bandwidth, low latency AI-driven IoT environments with the potential for huge innovation – and disruption.
With the widespread adoption of hybrid multicloud as the de-facto architecture for enterprise customers, enterprises are under tremendous pressure to modernise their infrastructure and deliver tangible business value around data-intensive applications and workloads.
Hardware-based Composable Architecture will have less short-term potential against commodity hardware and software-based Infrastructure Virtualisation. This year, attempts to build a true hardware-based rack-scale computing model will no doubt continue, and the space will continue to evolve quickly, but the majority of organisations that need to transform within 2020 will be best-served by the combination of modern HCI architectures (including disaggregated HCI) and software-based virtualization and containerisation.
Please list out the top channel directions which your company has set for its partners and where should partners invest to be aligned with these directions?
Our partner ecosystem forms the foundation of our success in the country. We believe in working closely with our partners in a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship where we support our partners to leverage the next wave of technology innovation while ensuring that they are skilled to earn revenue from our existing solutions and from the various rebates and incentives that we offer.
In 2020, we intend to work with our partners to expand our footprint in our existing customers base leveraging the vast portfolio of solutions and offerings; expand our market outreach into new territories and tier II cities and support our partners in their evolution to becoming proficient partners in hybrid multi-cloud, software based virtualisation and containerisation and AI technologies.
Stemming from our directions, we look forward to our partners jointly investing in taking an active part in our training and enablement initiatives for our portfolio, building a team that can help us jointly expand into existing and new customer spaces, creating and executing out-of-the-box marketing ideas and plans in the new world and mutually beneficial and profitable business.