Storage vendor NetApp has told partners it will change the way it interacts with its distributors, as part of a channel strategy update at its annual partner conference in Lisbon.
NetApp's vice president of worldwide channel, Bill Lispin, said the vendor will use distribution "more than ever."
"Distribution value is going to be critical. You are going to see us leaning more and more on distributors to do things that we think they are more effective at doing than NetApp [is]," he said.
The vendor currently has five distributors in the UK: Arrow, Avnet and Hammer specialise in NetApp's ONTAP product and professional services, and Ingram Micro and Comstor.
Thomas Ehrlich, vice president of pathways and operations EMEA at NetApp, said:
"In a competitive environment we really need to make sure we know who is doing what and [that] we eliminate overlay. If a partner is self-sufficient, distribution doesn't need to be involved so much.
"At the same time, when we talk about new partners, they really don't know how to configure our systems. They need someone to help them."
During the event, the vendor announced that its EMEA channel revenue growth for the financial year ending in 2016 was eight per cent, and 81.5 per cent of EMEA business was indirect.
Lispin also said NetApp will change the way it "remunerates distributor's value".
"We are changing the way we remunerate their value because as they make different investments, whether that is in a marketplace, a consumption model or just different value-adds that they provide to the marketplace, those services are going to be more important than ever if we are to step up to the bar," he explained.
"Wherever distribution is helping partners that are not so self-sufficient, I really want to reward them greatly. We are trying to make sure that loyal distributors will achieve a competitive and comparable margin with us," Ehrlich added.
"We are going to change how they make that money. So we will focus more on the less independent partners. I have no intention of giving the same profit to a distributor if it is a really self-sufficient partner who can do everything."
The vendor acquired flash vendor SolidFire last year, and Lispin told partners the integration of SolidFire into NetApp's partner programme will be seamless.
"SolidFire will be seamlessly integrated into our programmes. It will be like every other product in the NetApp portfolio," he said. "It should be as simple for you to digest our SolidFire portfolio as it is our other products."
Softcat's solutions director, Sam Routledge, said the reseller has been a partner with NetApp for about nine years and he saw the event as an opportunity to reconnect with the vendor.
"Early doors, the NetApp story was magnificent," he said. "I think around 18 months ago, NetApp had a bit of a dip and they weren't as forthcoming with their story and what was going on. It is good to see NetApp get their mojo back."
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