The amount of business in India is enormous, and SUSE is looking for a minimum 10 times more business than today. In an interaction with CRN India, Phillip Cockrell, Worldwide Vice President – Alliance Sales, SUSE, delves deep into the company’s market positioning, partner ecosystem and more
What are the hiring trends with respect to India? Do you have any skill set in mind?
Earlier we had a program where we focused mainly on training the individuals, but of course, with so many people it was very difficult to efficiently train them all. Now the program has three specific trainers who constantly focus on creating more trainers inside the large system integrators. We align our trainings on the solutions we’ve built with those integrator partners and they are trained on all the components that are underneath that. Those trainers that we’re training can then take that information and give it to the delivery teams and the practice teams inside of those organizations, whether those people are sitting here in India or whether they’re in other parts of the world.
In the past we were doing more hand-to-hand training but now we would take a really large strategic view to create more skills in those organizations. The idea behind it is that we want to build the skill sets that is easier for the end customers to consume and make it smooth to deliver. It’s also about raising the awareness of SUSE in the market.
What are your partner strategies for India?
Ninety-five per cent of our revenue is done by partners. So, we are really a partner centric organization. For the GSIs, we’re focusing in a couple of key areas. SAP is very important to our business and we look at how customers are consuming SAP solutions in the market. This is because SAP implementations continue to get more complex that increase the risk, which means that customers want to leverage SIs to implement those projects. From a strategy perspective, we want to make it easy for our SIs to include our technologies in those offerings that they give to customers, that they sell to customers. That’s why we need to train them.
The other areas where we’re focusing with our SI partners are around the software-defined infrastructure and then also application delivery and development. For an example, for several years now we’ve been working with TCS and recently we made announcement that SUSE OpenStack Cloud has been adopted by TCS for TCS Cloud.
This type of implementation with those partners is part of our tagline – “we adapt you succeed” which means we work very closely with the partners, so that we take the open-source technologies and help the partners deploy and run that. This is efficient for their customers. This is exactly we did with the TCS Cloud. It’s now powered by SUSE OpenStack Cloud and so the result is that now when TCS brings more customers, they can very easily and quickly deploy an entire Cloud to a new data center. As such, the expansion of that over the last couple of years has just been explosive. Actually it grows more than 50 per cent year-on-year.
What are the key trends that you see here in India in terms of channels?
India is 100 per cent channel driven organisation. I’d summarize that into three categories. The first one that I noticed is that all of the partners here in India and all of the people that are working in those partner organizations are very hungry to learn. So, they’re very interested in learning new technologies, working with open source, and because they’re young people that also helps SUSE in the long run because then we’ve got very young energetic people that are going to help us together improve and contribute to the open source community.
The other is that our channel partners and especially here in India. They help to improve our products because they sell into very complex customer organizations. So, if you think about our global system integrator partners, they’re going into very complex customer organizations with very complex use cases. What that means is that we can find ways to optimize and improve our products that make it easier for us to go and then replicate those types of deals and ultimately grow our business in other regions.
The last one is that not completely unique to India, but definitely something that I’ve seen here is that those partners focused very heavily on customer experience. So, when they focus on customer experience and we’re there, we can learn as an organization from them and also help to improve customer’s perception of SUSE. And when we deliver a very good customer experience, partners will then want to grow their business with us over time.
What are the various projects you’re working in terms of digital transformation?
We are working on digital transformation projects with partners and with strategic customers and we are making immense contribution in DevOps. We also have a solution in the market, Cloud Application Platform, which is based on the Cloud Foundry product and it supports our philosophy of being the open, open-source company. For some customers if they want just one stack, we containerize Cloud Foundry and then that can run on top of OpenStack or on bare metal. The other thing that we do because we believe in being open and creating opportunity for our partners is that we run our Cloud Foundry without our container piece. So, we can run that on containers that are provided by our partners, and examples of that could be in EKS on Amazon Web Services or AKS on Azure.
Five years down the line where do you see SUSE in India?
In India we are looking for minimum 10 times more business than today. The amount of business which is lying in India is enormous. The acceptance of SUSE as a brand is continuously increasing. We are the most dominant player in the manufacturing segment. So, our competition has lost a lot of ground in powering the mission critical applications like SAP in the manufacturing space. On the BFSI, we are increasingly getting traction in all the greenfield projects. We are also in government projects and initiatives too. If you look at India’s largest insurance system, which is Employees’ State Insurance Corporation, it was powered by SUSE.