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Barcelona y Amor in Ehrlich on Air

Posted by tehrlich Oct 13, 2013

Although the title might be misleading, this still is the Ehrlich on Air blog. A digital dwelling place for all things partners, pathways and go-to-market strategies of your favorite storage and data management provider. So why the title, which translates to “Barcelona and Love”?

If you guessed “VMworld” you are correct. For the second consecutive time, the virtualization heavyweight and NetApp Global Alliance Partner VMware returns to the Catalan capital and brings us one of the most popular and renowned industry events for Cloud and virtualization. Nothing more to do than join the fun with a Diamond sponsorship – at the time of writing I am looking forward to customer meetings, partner strategy discussions, and industry conversations with you! If you come to Barcelona, please stop by our booth D206, the NetApp Cloud Lounge, or join any of the activities we’ll run there.
Some teasers: We’ll be doing a customer event at FC Barca’s fabulous Camp Nou stadium (largest in Europe!), we are raffling helicopter sightseeing flights, NetApp TV will be there, as will be Team NetApp-Endura. And if you are lucky we will – yes, indeed – clone you (with the additional chance to win cool Apple products like iPads or a MacBook).
Now for the “Love” part. While we have many, many breathtaking activities planned for this year’s show, ultimately it will all be down to business.

To me Business is all focussed around our partner success!

This is why I want to highlight some of our partners’ presentations at VMworld Europe – showing our partners some love, so to quip. Here we go!

On Tuesday the 15th, Interoute kicks off the presentations in our booth D206 mini-theater with their take on “Europe’s Enterprise Cloud” for fast and highly available storage as a service (3:30pm). It delivers private and public cloud computing, data storage, network, security, voice and video conferencing from one scalable platform, all under a single unified SLA. Next up at 4pm will be Atea and Karolinska University who demonstrate how a FlexPod and VMware environment helped build cloud services for the entire university, including dedicated vertical applications like medical imaging. Can’t have enough customer proof points though: At 5pm Ermestel will close the day with more interesting case studies focusing on converged stack technology such as Vodafone, Rey Juan Carlos University, and Comillas University.


The show’s second day on the 16th will feature three interesting partner presentations at our booth mini-theater. First off is Bull at 3:30pm. Can’t say too much yet, but stay tuned for an announcement in the converged infrastructure space that greatly aims to simplify CIOs’ lives. Bull will be followed by Computacenter who are going to show what customers can do with the private cloud: Whether looking to implement a private cloud solution, to modernize the workplace, or to consolidate infrastructure, this presentation will cover the benefits and the risks, and show how to maximize investment. Last but not least at 4pm it is IBM who demonstrate NetApp and IBM Services working in unison for private cloud, managed services, and desktop cloud computing.


The last day of VMworld Europe is all Fujitsu in the partner mini-theater. At 11:30am, they present “ROI not DIY.” Learn how vShape from Fujitsu integrates an organization’s storage, server, network, and virtualization software, all ready to go straight out of the box, reducing cost and time to deployment. Achieving ROI has never been this simple, in there view.


I do hope you enjoy the show and some rays of the beautiful Spanish sun. Can’t make it to Barcelona this year? How about you join us online – we have a vast load of social activities scheduled. You can follow our hashtags #NetAppVMworld, #NetAppOBS, and #NetAppCloud. We will share pictures, videos and live updates from the theaters and show floor across our Facebook channels (check, our Twitter @NetAppEMEA, and our Community page (

Also, expect updates from our battalion of NetApp bloggers at the ready: NetApp 360 (, JR’s IT Pad (, Tangential Thoughts (, and Tim’s Tales ( 


Enough, let’s get this show started. See you in Barcelona!


There is no such thing as the typical partner; at least not anymore. Much like the inhabitant of Loch Ness or the Yeti we have grown accustomed to the usual sightings – but in reality, none of the three exist.


As for the partner, this was not always the case. Only a few years back, channel structures and partner offerings were very much straightforward. A major part of the business involved working with the value added reseller base. Services were straightforward, either support or, sometimes, PS. The contractual relationships where clear. But more importantly, these VARs slotted quite nicely into the channel landscape and there was little overlap between them and other channel providers – distributors, integrators, providers, and the like. They were – in the truest sense – the typical partner.


These VARs formidably supported the sales pipeline and efforts of IT vendors into the market extending their reach quite dramatically.


This picture has changed. The channel is in turmoil. Players diversify on a large scale as they leverage services to broaden their footprint at the customer. These days, it is just as common to find a reseller with a well-developed services portfolio as it is to find an integrator who does major business through consultancy or services. Everything is possible.


So, here’s the catch: Vendors have been slow to adapt their partner offerings to the channel realities. Partner programs were for a large part organized in silos that offered little leeway in terms of flexibility. Partner incentive models had a lot to do with this. With bookings accounting for most of the incentives, different models of acknowledging partner success were hard to implement. And to be honest, NetApp has followed this very path for some time.


Fast forward to today. Channel diversification means that marketing, development, sales, delivery, services, and support offerings all need to be reflected in the vendors’ partner programs. This is what we are doing with the major global revamp of the NetApp Partner Program that we just announced publicly. Get ready for:

-       A new unified approach for all partners that resell, host and/or integrate with only one agreement to sign

-       Partner diversification based on capabilities instead of rigid contractual confinements

-       Customers’ easy choice of the right partner with the right tools and knowledge for the job. Plus a brand-new end-user facing Partner Directory

-       Enhanced Star Partner reward programs for growth and competency

-       Solution incentives to drive partner profitability


The bottom line is simple: Participating Partners get the full recognition for the value they deliver. Whether they are a reseller, vertical solution integrator, service provider, or a new breed in-between, they now have the ability and partner status to offer a multi-faceted catalogue of services, products and options. NetApp adds broad financial and enablement benefits that help partners advance their businesses to bring the best, broadest, most complete solution to the customer.


It is easy to spot the beauty in the new setup. If our partners add value to the customer, they will be rewarded. We are setting all types of partners, alliances and vendor partners up for future growth, even if the landscape has vastly grown in complexity. To learn more about all the good things coming your way, reach out to your NetApp partner manager TODAY!

A few years back, the Spanish “Tiki-taka” style of football overwhelmed the competition. Teams like FC Bayern München and Borussia Dortmund had to focus on classic strategies (strong defense, hard work, endurance, patience) combined with creative and innovative ways (analysis, technical finesse, strategy, team play) to find a recipe against the flawless short passing and tenacious ball possession of the Spaniards. Lessons to success and in the end to outshine the competition: observe, anticipate, analyze, take your bet, plan, get the buy in, execute.


So, how could Distribution business in IT be viewed in the light of the above?


Recent history has impacted the way in which IT strategies are being defined. Today, the influence from outside, driven by cloud and mobile applications is tremendously high. Requirements from within the core business of companies are changing rapidly. This also seriously affects how the tools and resources to adopt are being sourced. And of course who is supposed to be a trusted advisor.


In IT, distribution has traditionally been this advisor. No matter if your business is reselling, system integration, service provider or vendor – at a certain point you touch base with the distribution, either directly or indirectly.


Distribution itself has undergone a strategic change, necessitated by new technologies, new ways to consume products and solutions, converged solution stacks and new vendor strategies. Another reason was their classic VAR base’s move towards service-based solutions. As a result, distributors created new terms such as Value Added Distributor, Solution Distributor, or Cloud Broker, to name a few.


What is behind this branding? Is there mainstream still? How is value-add defined?



This is the base and core of a distribution model: market development for vendors and business services to its customers through education, marketing, financial and logistic support; and of course; stimulation and compensation for successful growth of business.


Value add

My take: the real added value delivered by a distributor is it´s ability to have a strategic and committed differentiation for its customer and its vendor base. Innovative distributors that are able to think ahead can outgrow markets, enter new territories, be more profitable and attract more customers.


Let´s take the predicted hyper growth on cloud and service-based business as an example: The mainstream is unchanged. It is either about developing new and additional business in a white space area, or enabling competitive win overs. Both will result in additional market share for everybody involved.


The added value is to provide a program, tools and resources in addition that result in more success for the supply chain. Why not consult service providers through and with partners about pricing, packaging and go to market scenarios, probably in cooperation with the technology vendor stack to maximize resources and funds. Provide technical infrastructure through and with partners to ISVs and link it to their VAR and SI base. The bottom line is providing a broader reach to additional end users.


Consequently, vendors will have to realign and reorganize the way they manage their partners and pathways. The future of channel organizations might be around capabilities, industries, verticals and specializations rather then managing distribution, VARs, SPs and SIs. Compensation, billing and licensing models will have to be adjusted.


NetApp has always been all-out committed to its partners and pathways and will continue to leverage the potential synergies that are rising today. The recently launched Distribution Evolution Cloud Computing program for example specifically addresses the big opportunity for distribution, as well as cloud and service providers. Your turn!

Let me compare system integrator and service provider offerings to transportation for a moment. There’s buying, leasing, renting, financing or sharing, with probably a few other types of use or procurement in between. The bottom line: If I want to move myself from A to B, I have a multitude of options to do so. Everything depends on the parameters. If I want to get to my destination as fast as possible, I take my private car. If I want to save money, I choose public transport. If there is luggage, maybe even in bulk, I will rent or car-share a van.


In the end, there will be the one perfect transportation model in due consideration of my parameters.


Where is this talk about planes, trains and automobiles getting us? These days, running an IT infrastructure is very much alike. On one hand of the spectrum is a customer completely and independently running his own IT. Hardware procurement, software integration and operations are all done in-house. On the other hand we see a customer relying on an outsourcing strategy for all his IT services. Consequently, the level of customer involvement across this range drops from virtually 100 percent to virtually zero. Being THE advisor to most endusers, the channel needs to understand that there are granular stages in between and that one single customer might want and need to rely on a mix. Across his departments, he will be at different stages of involvement at the same time. Mind you, the numbers of customers moving their whole IT to a service model are few and far between. Can you imagine a renowned car manufacturer storing his ‘crown jewels’ CAD design files at an outside service provider? I can’t


This then leaves the partners in desperate need of a 360 degree view of the customers’ IT. If the parameters are complicated, only such an insight allows them to define the right IT model for the right segments (application- or function-driven) within the customer. Most likely the result will be a hybrid offering. Catering to one extreme of the spectrum will not suffice – quite the contrary, it endangers customer retention. A hybrid offering does not: Through a mix of reselling, service offering, professional services, support and consulting, resellers maximize their customer retention and also find new ones.


The vendor’s role through all this remains the same, supplying superior innovation to assess and enrich the resellers’ offering. Driving versatility is the goal. Our own EMEA Partners & Pathways organization is no exception, so do reach out to them whenever you are ready.


We are!

Reading the newspaper,  I recently came across the term „confirmation bias" again. Spoken simply, it describes our tendency to interpret new information solely in a way to confirm existing convictions.
Information not corresponding with present conviction is filtered and packed away instantly. Hard to get away from that.


We at NetApp see a significant increase in the demand for IT as service. This tendency fosters a growing urgency to evaluate the impact of possibly moving parts of your business model from transactional to annuity base, if you haven‘t yet done so. I assume you already know what I am talking about. Service focused customers are not a future scenario, but reality. 30% to 40% of today’s customers RFPs include service components. Three years ago, this number was close to zero.


As alternatives, there might be two valid options to consider: IT self-supplied services for the customer – and (white label?) solutions from third party Service Providers.
Taking a decision between these two will mainly be based on three criteria:

  • Your value proposition
  • Your structure of customers
  • Your existing and evolving relationship with vendors.

No matter what decision you will take, proper financial planning and management will be key. While securing margins today as part of each transaction in traditional business, in the future you have to be prepared to secure the same margin from a growing, but initially small stream of annuities. At the end of the day smartly optimizing your financials will become a key parameter in the world of annuity-based business.

Your view on this is  very welcome. I‘m all ears.