Praveen Sahai

Exclusive interview: Praveen Sahai, VP Channels, APJC Commvault

In an exclusive interview with DQ Channels, Praveen Sahai, Vice President, Channels, Alliances & Service Provider, APJC Commvault shared deep insights on the challenges faced by partners, GTM strategies, and channel goals for 2023.

How has been the year 2022 for Commvault?

In 2022, we witnessed digital transformation plans continuing to pivot due to the global pandemic and there was a greater need for speed, agility, and security for uninterrupted business operations. Ransomware continued to be a global threat to organizations across sectors. IDC Spotlight report, commissioned by Commvault revealed that India is amongst the worst hit countries by ransomware in 2022. 37% of organizations stated that their sensitive or secret data was exfiltrated while 53% of the respondents mentioned that ransom was paid, but 49% of organizations were still unable to access systems or data as it was blocked for a few days. In this scenario, resilience formed the core of all data management strategies to rapidly combat a threat and a robust backup and recovery plan took the centre stage to secure an organization’s critical data. Commvault’s “no-compromise architecture” was a key enabler to help enterprises in India build comprehensive data protection and resilience strategies as they surf the digital transformation wave.

We witnessed the demand across SaaS, DR, cloud infrastructure, and intelligent data services to be quite strong. As enterprises aimed to empower their agile workforce with a secure, fast, and reliable data ecosystem, Data Management-as-a-service (DMaaS) became crucial in keeping a federated view and control of their data to ensure that their IT infrastructures remain protected, compliant, and cost-effective. Cloud became a top opportunity driver for channel partners with small to medium businesses opting for affordable and feature-rich MSP cloud offerings to accelerate their transition to the cloud. 

Commvault recently launched Metallic® ThreatWise, an early warning system that aims at further defining data security with an early warning that no other vendor in this space provides. This unique approach to deception surfaces bad actor attempts in sophisticated ways, without restrictions or resource constraints.  We saw partners re-aligning their strategies to capture expanded opportunities to serve the customers.

The change in consumption models also helped enterprises relook at how they’re making their investments in technology and imbibe a utility approach. This utility model, further, gave the power to the IT leadership teams and the board members to look at technology as a game changer. Moreover, we saw greater trust coming between the vendors and the partners rather than the whole system becoming just a business transaction.

What are the expectations from the 2023 Channel Ecosystem?

The last three years witnessed a significant impact on the relationship between partners and vendors – leading to a greater sense of trust and collaboration to meet evolving customer expectations. As we enter 2023, there is an incredible response from Metallic ThreatWise on how we’re bringing together next-gen sensor technology with data protection. Growth in the channel market is encouraging, and we foresee this trend to be widely accepted as more enterprises embrace digitalization.

To thrive in this dynamic business environment and maximize growth potential, the channel ecosystem must embrace the mantra to “reinvent and recalibrate” as well as “unlearn and relearn”. We are assisting our customers to stay relevant in the market by migrating them to the cloud while also offering real backup value in the SaaS ecosystem to those born in the era of the cloud.

Empowering our partner ecosystem is always a top priority for us and our innovative, advanced solutions coupled with holistic partner training and services support this vision. We ensure to provide 360-degree partner-focused support to work together to enable breakthroughs in our IT channel performance.

What are the biggest challenges facing partners in 2023?

The uncertainty surrounding the macroeconomic climate is one of the most significant concerns we anticipate in 2023. This year will continue to be challenging – especially for organizations that are neither profitable nor publicly traded, prompting many to seek cost-cutting opportunities. Cutbacks and failures are inevitable, and partners and customers will be reluctant to adopt solutions from vendors with no clear vision. Together with inflationary pressures, partners will need to focus on enabling high-value projects to stay competitive.

Client priority will shrink as investments will need to focus on critical areas as partners keep up with the pace of change. Areas like ransomware, data management, cloud migration, and digital transformation will continue to get funding, while other areas of business will take a backseat. To address these challenges, consolidation is crucial. To achieve cost-effective delivery, customers will align with vendors who offer a wider breadth of coverage and support.

Focus areas and channel goals for 2023.

A robust channel partner ecosystem has the potential to maximize business value and visibility and thus, businesses must focus on building a holistic partner program to enhance productivity and mutual advantages. Partners form an integral part of our business, and we believe that sustaining and expanding our strong partner ecosystem is vital to all we do at Commvault – it is a top focus for our Global Partner Organization.

As businesses lean towards a utility-based model, partners will be required to not just sell products but also deliver professional services and maximize value as this will be the key to truly developing a long-standing relationship with the customers. At Commvault, we are committed to nurturing and catering to our partner’s needs through extensive training and programs.

We continue to see strong growth for our industry-leading Metallic SaaS business, which generated over $75M in ARR in just a few years. We are proud to be the only vendor that provides a ubiquitous solution to both on-prem & cloud/native customers. In 2023, one of our focus areas will be to expand our presence in India with a Metallic SaaS portfolio and further strengthen our operations with the ‘Power of AND’. The ‘Power of AND’ enables Commvault with the capability to offer customers more than just one way to protect their data. These solutions integrate to form a package or framework to seamlessly manage data across the cloud to scale security and performance, at any phase of the digital transformation journey.

GTM strategy and key initiatives to strengthen Partner relationships in 2023.

Commvault is a “Partner-First” organization, and we are focused on engaging our partners responsibly and transparently when working together. Following the ethos of Simplify, Solve & Evolve, our goal in 2023 is to help our partners deliver the solutions they need to help their customers. We want to ensure our partners have a unified end-to-end data offering and gain the ability to scale their profitability, with an opportunity to always grow.

To strengthen our partner relationships, we will continue to invest across four key pillars:

  • Innovative products that are partner-ready to sell – Our partners look to Commvault as their innovation engine for Intelligent Data Management Services and SaaS solutions. We will continue to accelerate our capabilities, educating and training our partners on our radically simple, partner-ready portfolio.
  • A partner-to-win, go-to-market strategy, and ecosystem – We ensure our partners see a deeper and consistently engaged Commvault selling and marketing team, further ensuring responsible growth, together.
  • Modern, profitable, and predictable programs – We will continue to drive focus and motivate partners with a modern, profitable, and predictable program.
  • Success made simple: We are always listening to our valued partners and keep the simplicity and “ease of doing business” approach at the core of our partner program. 

Additionally, we continue to invest in our innovation portfolio by leveraging the Power of ‘AND’, to extend between on-premises and cloud with a single integrated solution. Ultimately, our goal is 2023 is to further enrich our relationship with both our partners and customers and consistently work towards maximizing the business value by embracing the possibilities of this future

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