In a candid interaction with DQ Channels, Kaushal Veluri, Director, Channels, and Alliances, NetApp India & SAARC has talked about the NetApp’s Journey ahead with their partners, strategies and future plans for 2019.
What are the recent developments have been done within NetApp India?
Last year was fairly good for us and we are now looking forward to our new financial year. Our focus this year remains around the three key areas. Firstly, how can we help our customers upgrade their infrastructure. As the world is digitally evolving, the customers are looking forward to shifting from old disk drives to flash technology. As far as flash is concerned, we are the number one player in that. We have the leadership in a flash across India as well as globally.
Secondly, how can we help our customers modernize their current infrastructure into a private cloud infrastructure. Data is being generated at an increasing rate, every second. We want to help our customers manage the data in both the infrastructures and gather better insight with the right pricing capability, agility, and flexibility.
Thirdly, our focus is to help our customers manage their data across environments - on-premise, private cloud, public cloud or all three of these, and devise the right data management strategy for the newer technologies such as AI, ML, IoT or DevOps. Data is the foundation of these technologies and organizations are now realizing the importance of it.
How are customers adopting and becoming more data-driven? Now the Government is a lot more into data and transformation focused. What is your view?
When we talk about digital transformation, we also need to understand that this transformation is ‘data-driven’. Organizations (across sectors - Manufacturing, Banking, Retail or Government) are dependent on data to gather insights and derive business results. Our aim is to help our customer manage their data from the edge to core to cloud. We are seeing this shift happening in the Government sector as well. With schemes and policies under UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India), Indian Railways and Ayushman Bharat Yojana, the collection and analysis of data has become imperative.
You spoke about data and digital transformation. So, security is a major concern that companies are having. How stable is the security and how, in your opinion, do other vendors collaborate with, from the security perspective?
Security is the key concern from a data management perspective. At NetApp, we are the only vendor who has a single storage operating system since the time we started - ONTAP. Over the years, we have consistently worked and made it better. It is always ready to overcome the issues that the industry is facing. In ONTAP, we have an in-built algorithm which helps in the secure movement of data, when in transit. If you look at our disks, we have them encrypted. Moreover, we collaborate with other vendors. We understand the importance and criticality of moving data across the environment and technologies.
How are partners taking this journey ahead?
From a partner perspective, we support them in three aspects - innovation, upskilling and revenue. We are making our partner programs much more simplified than earlier. Now, partners are looking for simplification and consistency. One of the things that we are implementing is rewarding our partners when they get new customers and when they sell more of NetApp solutions to their existing customers. We ensure that they do not have to claim for a rebate, each time they sign a new customer. Once the deal is closed, we automatically write a back-end rebate cheque and the money gets transferred to them without hassle. This is how we have simplified the entire process.
NetApp not just has one storage system but has a whole portfolio of services for customers, from flash to the SAN Max storage, to cloud licenses, hybrid cloud infrastructure, HCI and object storage. There are a lot of products out there from which one can now build an infrastructure with their existing customers.
We also give partners some backend rebate when they are pitching to a competitive customer who has some other storage infrastructure as there is a lot of data migration and services involved. We also look at complete services for the rebate strategy.
From the upskilling perspective, we consistently train and guide the partners on the technologies. Every quarter, we organize a Seven-city Partner Connect event - spend half a day with our partners, tell them about our latest updates and let them network with our sales team. We also organize Tech Talks and Webinars once every 15 days of one hour each.
On the innovation bit, we help the partner catch on to the next wave. On the advanced technologies front such as AI, ML, DevOps, and IoT, we have a strong partnership with NVIDIA. In fact, last month we launched the AI Centre of Excellence in Bangalore along with NVIDIA to help our partners and customers navigate the world with AI. For DevOps, we have a relationship with Red Hat, too.
How many partners do you have? What are the set strategies for 2019? What are NetApp India geographic expansions?
We have a whole list of partners. Approximately 20% of our partners give us about 80% of the business. We have some 50 odd partners that give us regular business and we work with them very actively. These are spread across four cities.
NetApp India's focus for FY20 is to keep maintaining the relationship with the partners and make sure that our growth is also reflected in our partner’s growth as well. Additionally, we want to expand beyond the four cities and penetrate the Tier-2 cities as well, or what I call it, is a geo-expansion strategy. Primarily, a lot of our business comes from the NCR region in the North, Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad in the West, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Kolkata in the South and the East and then, of course, Bangladesh, Nepal and so on. There is a lot of potential in India beyond these cities. Therefore, our aim is to build effective and mutually beneficial partnerships in areas like Punjab, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Ludhiana, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Baroda, Surat, Goa, Vizag, Kochi, Orissa, Bhubaneshwar and more.
NetApp India works with our entire ecosystem partners like Commvault, Veeam, Red Hat, NVIDIA and taking these innovations and offering them to the customers.
What is the NetApp India future plan for the next 12-18 months?
The focus areas for us would be simplicity and consistency for partners, as mentioned above. Other focus areas would be geo-expansion, new partnerships with the cloud partners and how to take the new solutions and technologies to our partners and then to the customers. We strive to skill the partners continuously and help them modernize their IT, private cloud and public cloud for the end customers for the next 12 odd months.