The channel now has a far more positive perception of NetApp now that it has repositioned itself as a data management vendor and caught up with the competition.
That is the opinion of NetApp's EMEA senior director of channel and system integrators Alfred Manhart, who spoke to CRN's sister publication Channelnomics Europe at its Insight conference in Berlin this week.
"We asked execs from our top 150 partners and they've told us that we have our mojo back. There is a positive momentum," Manhart said.
"Quarters ago, some might have thought that NetApp will go down but we are more than back, and we are currently in a great place for [the channel] to partner with. At the moment I wouldn't call us a safe bet but a really, really positive bet."
Manhart's optimism was bolstered by the data management vendor's Q2 2018 results, posted yesterday, which showed revenue of $1.42bn (£1.07bn), a year-over-year increase of six percent.
Moving forwards, Manhart said that his plan is to increase the firm's focus on the SMB market.
"What's changed in our strategy is that we've come up with lower velocity orientated products and offerings, which go down to the lower market segment, which is mainly addressing new customers from a segmentation perspective, having attractive lower-end pricing bundles, and we are being pretty successful.
"We call it express packs and velocity play and it drives a lot of new accounts. Actually, with velocity-play we currently have triple-digit growth rates on these kinds of offerings."
Manhart added: "This is currently a market that we have not really played in before because now we are talking about a NetApp-based offering, which is completely partner driven…We are going to focus on our existing partners and help them evolve their go to market model to the new world as the market is demanding change. We do need new partners who are not the typical resellers, such as service partners and alliance partners."
In the past NetApp has been criticised for being late to developments in the market, such as in the hyper-converged arena, allowing smaller players to pip them to the post, and add lower pricing.
Manhart insists that the head start advantage NetApp's smaller rivals previously enjoyed has now expired.
"The bigger rivals [like Dell EMC] have too many offerings. We have a smaller portfolio and focus on data management with a rich portfolio. So, we are more agile and more focused compared to our large rivals. And regarding the smaller vendors, our offerings are more diversified. And the install base that we have from a partner and customer perspective is something that the market should not underestimate…From a functionality and product portfolio perspective, they cannot compete."
The technical director of one of the vendor's UK MSPs - Liverpool-based Gardener Systems - agrees. Paul Stringfellow told Channelnomics Europe at Insight that NetApp has finally got their messaging to the channel right.
"NetApp was slow to adapt to the market in the past and they didn't have much to talk about…Their channel message was not at all what our customers were seeing….To NetApp's great credit I now don't think there's another vendor on the market, that I know of, that has anything like such a wide strategic message, or one that is as holistic on data management," Stringfellow said.
"As far as their competitive landscape goes, well, I was talking to someone here who is also a Dell EMC partner, and he was saying that although EMC can talk to you about backup to the cloud, actually as a strategic joined up message, they don't really have that.
"Then looking at Pure, they're still a relatively small company who are still losing money hand over fist trying to sell stuff. And having that going on it's very hard to have a breadth of portfolio...With Nimble, they come in and make a big play in the market offering something new and cheaper, and then they get bought by HP… Especially in the UK, I think there's still a lot of comfort in going to a big player that won't get snapped up like that and has a consistent message."
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