Shooting for the top

NetApp recently flew in its EMEA top dogs to Dubai to host the company’s Quarterly Executive Event for partners and end-users. Juan de Zulueta, the vendor’s EMEA VP for channel, took time out from his busy schedule to discuss its go-to-market strategy and reveal where it actually stands on the cloud computing debate.

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Shooting for the top
By  Andrew Seymour Published  November 30, 2010

CHANNEL: ‘Storage’ is very much a catch-all term these days. Which storage technologies are currently the main focus for NetApp, and is this likely to change going forward?

Juan De Zulueta: NetApp offers a suite of storage solutions made up of hardware, software and services designed to help customers protect data, ensure business continuity and archive data. We also provide a set of data protection solutions that we believe are the best for virtualised environments and which provide the cornerstone of deployment for both internal and external cloud. NetApp is currently working to bring our existing operating system to the next level, which will be a clustered OS and will allow the customer to deploy their storage in a scale-out mode.

CHANNEL: What are NetApp’s main priorities for the channel and how is the company competing with the sort of scale that the likes of EMC and IBM now have in the Middle East region?

Juan De Zulueta: We have the ambition to become the number one storage networking provider for the indirect channel this year. We are already number two in EMEA, ahead of HP, and we are more committed than any player towards channel success. We have many assets with our channel which we need to continue to develop. Our distribution is pivotal in the way we support our partners by combining focus on SMEs and extending our penetration into the large enterprise market. We have reinforced our partnership with Fujitsu in the Middle East and we are expecting strong success to follow this alliance. We also have a strong focus on global, EMEA and local system integrators to help partners penetrate larger footprint data centres. It is a priority for us to promote cloud, virtual desktop and SAP solutions that we can reference for our partners in the field.

CHANNEL: Every single vendor is talking about the cloud market right now. What is NetApp’s definition of ‘cloud’ and what kind of cloud services does NetApp offer?

Juan De Zulueta: Cloud for NetApp implies flexibility in the data centre, which is enabling our customers to rapidly provision new applications and new infrastructures to support their customers, whether they are internal or external. Our strategy is not to deliver cloud services on our own, but to provide our customers with the tools to implement their own cloud services for both internal and external purposes. Our cloud strategy is based on three compelling customer benefits: extreme flexibility in managing data; outstanding efficiency delivered through innovative storage virtualisation and data management solutions; and proven expertise in delivering enterprise-class ITaaS solutions to many customers over the past several years.

CHANNEL: How many of your cloud services are available in the Middle East?

Juan De Zulueta: The fastest growing part of the NetApp business segment is cloud service deployments. This is underpinned by StaaS (Storage as a Service) available in the Middle East for service providers leveraging ‘pay as you grow’ functionality around the NetApp product portfolio. This is fast becoming the regional cornerstone of all NetApp cloud service provision models. Organisations that are looking to this presently are typically the large enterprise, as they look to make rapid and significant cost restructuring by reducing complexity within data management infrastructure and moving to service orientated, on-demand business models, freeing up cash for the business. The government sector has been the fastest adopter, enhancing their business continuity strategy within the uptake of DR services offered via the cloud, as well as heterogeneous SAN/NAS availability. Paying for data to be backed up by tier of importance, as well as by size, is a superior economic performance model given the same SLA is achieved without the upfront capital investment.

CHANNEL: Where do NetApp’s cloud services leave the channel? Surely any strategy that involves the hosting of third-party storage or services is going to clash with partners’ own interests?

Juan De Zulueta: First of all, NetApp does not directly provide cloud services. Many of our partners are currently considering providing cloud services with their own facilities leveraging the benefits of NetApp technology. A lot of NetApp partners are becoming ITaaS providers. We have a strategy to influence our most advanced partners into servicing together the large service providers. There is opportunity for all partners, and they still remain the trusted advisors to their customers for recommending and selling storage solutions. The reality is that customer buying preferences are changing, and it takes an integrated effort between NetApp field sales, enterprise VARs, system integrators and service providers to bring the total solution together for meeting customer business needs.

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