In an exclusive interview with DQ Channels, Neeraj Bhatia, Director – Partner, Alliances & Commercial Sales, Red Hat shared the deep insights on Red Hat’s partner ecosystem, strategies and Partner programs.
What is the current revenue of Red Hat partners and the recent development at the organization? A brief background of the last 6-7 months.
As a global practice, we do not share country-specific numbers, but on a global level, partners are a very critical part of our business. The whole concept of our organization is built on the concept of collaboration and partnering. We work closely with the open-source communities, partners, customers and all contributors or making that open source technology enterprise-ready for all our partners, all OEMs, all cloud providers, some of our competitors, other software vendors, all of them are taking up open source technologies and making them enterprise-ready, and last but not the least, all the services and solution providers take our technology and deploy it for their customers for whatever outcome customers need. We do 70% of our business through partners globally. In the last 7-8 months, the partner side has shown great solace and continues to grow. At the recent announcement by IBM earnings call they had a special about Red Hat Ansible. Our business grew at the normalized currency at about 18% again in Q2 of IBM. Our partners are a big constituent of our business and hope to drive business in the current condition.
How has Covid-19 and the lockdown affected Red Hat’s business in India?
We have been a proponent of digital transformation, working with our customers to drive their business’s transformation using digital technology. We’ve always been on this pandemic so our message to our customers has over-amplified the efficient value of digital technologies. We have in the last two quarters, doubled our efforts in working with our customers also because of their interest in partners in enabling them to be better prepared to work effectively in this new era. We worked with banks, governments and telcos. We also work with a lot of manufacturing companies who have to talk to their customers, partners, buyers and their suppliers through API technologies.
What are the different trends that we are going to see after this pandemic for enterprises and organizations?
Cloud is becoming a very critical aspect of every organization. The second part is their readiness of the application to be imported on cloud and multi-cloud. The third is the critical focus on automation and management. Earlier, we had people sitting in offices and data centres to take care of any issues, upgrades, updates and any changes required were done. But now, we do not have the ability to get people in the offices like earlier. Suddenly, we have to make do less, have to make do remote access and that’s where a lot of our offerings around automation management and other technologies are coming into use.
There are many partners who were into the traditional solutions like they were selling hardware, software and networking products earlier, now they are moving to cloud technologies. How are you as a vendor helping those partners in this journey?
Our policy on partnering is to drive the partner ecosystem to deliver digital transformation to its customers. We have multiple programs including our umbrella program that enables Red Hat partners to understand Red Hat technologies, understand five the solution plays that we have around the IT optimization, Hybrid Cloud, container ready workloads, automation management, around these areas, and many of the existing traditional partners are now getting challenged, not just because of the pandemic, but otherwise also. The customers are looking at the repeatable activity and to reduce the build of their own data centres to the extent the regulations allow.
Wherever regulations are very strict, they are keeping their data inhouse, in their data centres. All the peripheral applications are in the cloud, including banking, telecom, manufacturing, pharma, services, medical industries, airlines and all across businesses are moving their applications to the cloud, and that’s the new opportunity for partners.
Red Hat helps them through with various training programs that we have, our Online Partner Enablement Network which is open to our partners to undertake training to learn, start from pre-sales to advanced delivery training.
We have a program called Ansible automation for certified partners. Those partners are trained on Ansible, they can automate very large data centres and management for their customers.
We have a program called OpenShift Practice Builder where we look at both SI and ISV who have repeatable frameworks that can be deployed on the OpenShift Kubernetes platform, i.e, Red Hat’s version of the Kubernetes platform and they can deploy it for customers for on-prem or Hybrid cloud.
We also have a program that is a Red Hat Certified Cloud and service provider program where we enable the traditional partners to offer as-a-service model, a consumption-based billing model and for Red Hat technology / for Red Hat solutions for their customers. A traditional reseller can tie up with a cloud provider like Microsoft Azure, AWS or any of these providers and build an application.
We are also conducting in the virtual world multiple programmes under the umbrella program of Red Dias which is a platform that we have created where partners can get their customers to talk to the experts from Red Hat identified solution areas. The partners drive their customers and we have a virtual discussion which we used to do it at Red Hat office or and Red Hat partner office now we continue to do it virtually. We have been propagating digital transformation and opportunities it has for partners for almost 3-4 years. Similarly, we have under The Red Hat Dias programme called ‘Chai pe charcha’, where we invite partner CXO’s to talk about how they are addressing the pandemic, how they are inviting new business models, what opportunities they can see and how we can partner with them. Very very open dialogue where we have our leadership teams and 4-5 APAC partners and their executives along with multiple associates who dialled into the talk. So, we have created multiple of these programmes and platforms to engage our partners starting from CXO, the partner sales and pre-sales for deliberating about how they are dealing with the pandemic.
What are your partner ecosystem and distribution model in India?
Our partner ecosystem is driven into multiple components. First of all, Red Hat partners are all technology vendors so we partner with distributors, cloud providers, solution providers, system integrators, OEMs i.e all hardware and networking equipment manufacturers. We also work with a very large set of ISVs who build the solutions on Red Hat technologies in the telecom domain, banking, smart-city, manufacturing, UPI, edge computing and many start-ups who are doing very advanced and future-looking work and will be offering their product/solutions to the customers while driving more innovation. We work with all the ISVs over there and very large developers, in India and globally as part of our commitment to the open-source community.
Any strategies for expanding your partner ecosystem? Any specific way you are planning to expand your partner base.
In the partner expansion space, we have multiple focus areas. The most important thing is to engage with partners who are in this transitional phase from being a traditional business to a cloud or services or solution-led business. We are constantly looking at partners who have the eye for technology to understand program and technology business, who are willing to invest with us in programmes and facilities to train their associates, ready to get their investment of people into the business, who have enterprise customers with complex workloads, complex business scenarios who are challenged in today’s pandemic world.
On the geographic side, we are looking at all absorb technology, just to tell you 500 plus start-ups in Trivandrum, we are trying to engage with them and provide them with the necessary support through our technologies and our programmes that we have for our partners. We are looking for partners in the East of India, we have partners in the South. We are actively working with many partners in different geographies to expand our partner base.