Our focus is on boosting revenue by enhancing partner profitability and fostering a partner-friendly environment: Amarish Karnik, Veeam Software


In a recent exclusive interaction with CRN India, Amarish Karnik, Director of Channel, Alliance & Cloud Service Provider – India & SAARC, Veeam Software, discusses various aspects of Veeam’s business growth, its impact on the partner ecosystem, and strategies for the future. He also outlines Veeam’s efforts to equip partners with necessary skills and competencies, such as the Veeam Army program, aimed at enhancing deployment capabilities. Karnik emphasises the importance of listening to partners’ feedback and adapting strategies accordingly, underscoring Veeam’s commitment to building a robust and profitable partner ecosystem.

How has been the growth of Veeam’s India business in recent times?

We are doing well. This is a time when the ecosystem collaborates more naturally, and we are seeing expansion on both the ecosystem side as well as channel side. We grew in large numbers last year and are seeing a good growth year-on-year again. Over the past year and in Q1, both new customer acquisitions and partner acquisitions have been successful.

Given your positive sentiment on the company’s overall growth, how do you see this impacting the partner ecosystem?

As a leader, my role and responsibilities have expanded. I oversee channel alliances, cloud service provider business, distribution, aggregators, and SMB sales. We have made this move because we believe that the channel ecosystem and SMB business must go hand in hand. It’s all about the velocity and reaching out to the masses. And we are scientific in our approach, because while evaluating an SMB customer, their employee-count is what we look at. 

Now, how do we make sure that we work together? So, there is a separate internal team which is working closely along with the channels team. The responsibilities of this internal team includes generating opportunities, giving channels team pricing, technology and any other required support. A big change that we have seen this year is that my volumes have increased in terms of SMB sales. Earlier 5-10 transactions used to happen and now I am looking at 20-25 transactions in a quarter, per person. 

Eventually this volume will continue to increase but what is important to note is that as we build relationships with new customers and partners, our deal value will also increase. While it’s a long journey, we are very confident SMB sales will bring in new avenues for us.

How has the channel business grown in comparison to the company’s overall phenomenal growth in the past year, and how significant has the channel ecosystem’s contribution been to this achievement?

The company has grown more than 68% year-on-year from India and SAARC standpoint. Good news is that we have seen some decent number of transactions starting to come in. We operate from January to December. We finished our Q1, and we saw some large wins in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan. In Nepal, we saw a good number of transactions last year. So, if I’m not wrong, whatever we have done in the last four years in Nepal in terms of the number of transactions, we did that last year alone. We accomplished that by focusing on the sales organisation. Bhutan still has the larger deal values and some of the larger customers as well. 

Ecosystem building has helped us go deep into the various pockets of India as well as other countries. We work with value-added resellers, service providers, and other ecosystem partners. For instance, marketplace transactions started happening again via the ecosystem partners.

We also have distributors and aggregators who are helping us to go into tier-two and tier-three cities. Going deep with key partners and spreading our bandwidth into multiple cities via distributors and aggregators is what has worked for us last year. And we continue to expand with some of the key, selective partners in the major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, and Ahmedabad.  

Besides, we work with GSIs (global system integrators). At this point of time, we are working with four-five large GSIs.

Could you please give a break-up of percentage-wise contribution to the channel business?

Managed partners constitute almost 70% of our revenue. And unmanaged partners are the ones who are contributing almost 30% of the revenue. My view is that this 30% will continue to grow at a rapid speed compared to the managed partners. So, 70% contribution might drop down slightly to 65%. But that 5% growth is still huge on the base we talked about.

What are the two or three key areas that are working for you in the channel?

If I look at the last two or three years’ time frame, there are a couple of things that have worked well for us. We are the ones who are challenging the status quo in the market. It has been a very fulfilling journey for us. We have been eminently customer-centric because our product offerings meet the market expectations. Also, our go-to-market approach is well appreciated by the channel ecosystem. 

For example, our recently launched Fast Track program allows partners to earn more money and enhance their profitability. So, if they close a deal in a specific period, they get more incentives from us. And that’s the front-end margin I’m talking about. Back-end will anyway come. If I can increase the profitability from X to Y, I think every sales guy will be keen to work with us. Taking care of our partners’ profitability has worked very well for us. 

Secondly, we enable the partner ecosystem to talk in a different language because a lot has changed in the customer environment in recent times. The way we are helping our customers in talking the right language and helping them make the right decision has triggered many conversations with customers and partners. These conversations have allowed us to build large value deals. 

Thirdly, we have increased our focus on large enterprises. Today, we are serving customers like Future Generali and Mahindra & Mahindra, among other referenceable customers. And thanks to our partner ecosystem, we have bagged a few multi-million dollar opportunities and deals. 

Most importantly, partners doing the right deployment has helped us grow. If they fail to do so, then I don’t think the customers will ever come back to us. 

Are there any specific activities or initiatives being taken to equip your partners to align with customers’ expectations for business outcomes, rather than just selling products and solutions?

We have taken a few initiatives in this direction. Our focus is to enable the sales, pre-sales and delivery teams of the partner organisations. For the sales and pre-sales team, we have launched new training modules which can be accessed at no cost by the partners. We don’t ask our partners to make any investments on this front. As part of this training, we provide specialised courses that help them build the right set of competencies and capabilities. If they are well-equipped and understand the domain well, then they will drive the right conversation with the customers. And then customers will also see a value coming from the partner ecosystem. 

We are also building competencies from a deployment standpoint. We have launched an initiative, called the “Veeam Army” in the country. It is a local and not global program. Here, we train our partner implementation team so that we provide best-of-the-world deployment experience to the customers. 

From a day-to-day operation standpoint, we have launched a new program, called Veeam Professional Certification, which will be extended to both customers and partners. Post any deployment, partners will get hands-on experience of what is to be done, what are the checks and balances they should keep monitoring so that if there are any alerts, we can take a more proactive approach, rather than just being reactive.

Can you please elaborate on the Veeam Army concept?

We started this initiative last year, wherein we selected 25-30 partners from North, West, South, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh and trained them on certain areas. As part of the first training that we conducted, we focused on specific things. In the second training, more than us, the partners did the talking, wherein they were sharing the good things that happened, how they overcame some of the challenges,  etc. I think we learn from each other. So, this Veeam Army is all about building a community that talks about the right deployment skill sets in the partner ecosystem.  

Now we want to make it more scalable. From the current 25-30, how do I go on to include 100 partners. I think that that’s the biggest challenge for me.

Traditionally, large enterprises have preferred working with the top GSIs over tier-two players. Has this changed now?

Things have changed a lot now. I will give you an example. The third largest bank in the country is using Veeam big time – more than 7000 instances are getting protected. But that’s still on-premises. But when we started working with them on the other opportunity, which is on the cloud side, they clearly said that this is a partner which we should work with, as the opportunity was brought to us by that partner itself. So, it’s more about challenging these existing partners to build the skill set so fast, otherwise, somebody else will seize the opportunities. 

How are you developing AI and GenAI capabilities among your partners?

Firstly, AI is integral to our offering. Now the questions are, how can we ensure that AI is seamlessly integrated into our product and how can we further empower partners to leverage AI, making it a central component of their approach. One notable step we have taken is implementing an AI-driven, built-in GUI, enabling partners to achieve accuracy and efficiency.

So, are the partners willing to learn, un-learn, and re-learn these emerging technologies?

They don’t have a choice. They will have to focus on these technologies. Coming back to GenAI, I believe there are a lot of opportunities for the partners. Two years ago, traditional partners also realised that if they don’t work on public cloud, they will be out of business. Likewise, new partners are going to take a leap of faith with respect to GenAI and lead the conversation. 

Coming to your SMB portfolio, how do you plan to increase your ecosystem?

Every city has SMB customers. The only way we can reach them is through our partner ecosystem, who are well supported by distributors and aggregators. In every city, be it small or large, 5-10 partners are mapped to our distributor. Second thing, we have started doing small lunch-and-learn sessions for these partner ecosystems in tier-2 and tier-3 cities like Coimbatore, Kochi, Nasik, Ludhiana, and Chandigarh. 

Are you looking to increase your partner ecosystem?

I will never say no to my partners. We have started Dormant Partner Activation. Dormant partners are those that did not transact in the last two years. We are looking at initiating conversations with them.  

What is the roadmap for 2025?

We are focused on revenue augmentation by increasing partner profitability and being a partner-friendly organisation.


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