“Cloud-based business technology is going to play a key role in shaping the future of digital workspaces” – By, Mr. Puneet Gupta, MD, NetApp India Marketing & Services

NetApp Appoints Puneet GuptaIn a Covid-19 era, what are the key priorities for NetApp today?

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about significant changes to business operations, immobilizing global workforce at their houses. It has pushed enterprises onto the centre stage with one of their greater challenges – ensure stability, continuity and – quite simply – survival.

The data disruption brought by COVID has moved the enterprises to swiftly bridge their digital transformation gaps. Industries have pushed their limits to adopt a digital-first approach at an accelerated pace. Both NetApp and our partners have seen the shift in customer buying patterns as people brace themselves for the workload demands on critical applications. We see customers embracing the need to support remote workers while having structured measures in place to support and manage the data securely. This sudden deluge of data has brought a renewed focus on cloud technology among the customers. Businesses have recognized they need to accelerate cloud adoption for the flexibility and agility required in today’s environment. Increased migration towards cloud computing has further made cloud a pre-requisite to build resilience and ensure process continuity. Right from data collection to analytics, businesses need to be more proactive to deliver personalized service and mitigate risks. Customers have started to embrace the data focused approach that adopts appropriate skillset, infrastructure, and technologies. With our constant endeavour to support our customers, we activated our plan to provide uninterrupted services and minimize any disruptions that could impact their business and prioritized on developing digitally collaborated tools to support them with safe business operations from their homes.

Our key priorities can be summarized as below:

  • Supporting remote workers—in building and deploying cloud-based end-user computing (EUC) and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to help improve the performance and scalability of on-premise VDI infrastructure
  • Helping customers and partners in understanding if their infrastructure is ready for the next 30 days by analyzing the capacity trends and identifying applications that might be running hot or storage systems that are overburdened
  • Ensuring that data and applications are available and performing—rationalizing data and application infrastructure for enterprises
  • We have also acquired CloudJumper and Spot to solve the new workforce challenges with virtual desktops and application management that will help them drive cloud resource optimization in real time, for both compute and storage and deep product sets within analytics, like Active IQ, and data protection to support the customers

How does the company look at ensuring business continuity for its partners communities and its customers? What are some of the special initiatives or measures that NetApp has taken to help its partners withstand this pandemic situation? 

We are working with a strong network of partners such as Hitachi Systems Micro Clinic, Binary Global Ltd, Locuz Enterprise Solutions Ltd, NTT India, Corporate Infotech Pvt Ltd. These partners play a critical role in enabling customers to achieve their business goals, especially during the pandemic. At NetApp, we have announced several initiatives specifically designed to empower partners to free the cash flow, plan business continuity, and focus on driving business growth. To ensure a cohesive approach in our sales and marketing efforts, we enable ongoing partner listening activities and always ask how we can make our programs better. As a direct result of our partners’ input, we make ongoing improvements to our portfolio, programs, policies, and processes.

Additionally, we have made it simpler for our partners to earn the rebates they are eligible for, by making the process claimless. This has helped them to focus on market outreach and customer acquisition without worrying about missing out on rebates. Now, we have also started rebate systems for the partner sales team. To reward and recognize the salesperson as well, we have started a program called “Star Track” which essentially gives incentives to the salesperson of that partner organization. We recognise their effort for product sales, and award them for acquiring new customers in particular.

Recently, we have also set up a virtual Data Visionaries Club for our partners where we connect them with our global and local teams to help them understand technology better. The partners can also access internal resources of identified partners, which helps them in empowering the customers to change the world with data.

Even though, no one wanted it to happen this way, but the fact is – the pandemic has given new meaning to digital transformation with Home being central to everything digital. What does this mean for the future of storage services and its business ecosystems? Where do go from here?

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about significant changes to business operations, forcing employees across the globe to work remotely. With this crisis, we have reached a tipping point where all businesses recognize they cannot survive using analog-era legacy solutions and architectures. Data is at the center of this transformation and provides the fuel to generate relevant insights. The success and growth in the next phase of business will come to those enterprises that can establish a foundation of modern data management – a triad of data quality, cloud, and security.

Cloud-based business technology is going to play a key role in shaping the future of digital workspaces. Organizations need to re-look at powerful data management software that will deliver the industry’s highest performance, superior flexibility, and best-in-class data services and cloud integration in the new Hybrid Cloud world. This will ensure responsive, uninterrupted experiences with key enterprise applications (such as Oracle Database, SAP HANA, Microsoft SQL Server, MongoDB, and new AI workloads).

The work from home arrangement is here to stay regardless of the size of the organizations and the nature of business. In this respect, the larger organizations might have an advantage as they are already well equipped with an array of resources to support virtual work. The organizations which are not digitally agile might find it challenging to swiftly make these changes. Whereas the ones that have aligned their business models with the new normal and are already accelerating their digital transformation efforts will be better poised to succeed in the next couple of years.

As we move ahead, the new normal will never be the same again. How do you plan to transition from a COVID to post- COVID era?

Amid the new normal, the fundamental changes that define this phase are secured work from anywhere, IT agility and flexibility and digitization for survival and growth.

As we move to the post COVID era, the transition will be easy to navigate with a robust partner – vendor relationship. We will continue to collaborate with our partners on different programs and initiatives. We maintain mutually beneficial relationships with our partners, helping them with rebates when they are delivering a new set of customers. Having simplified the process of rebate earning, we have made it more rewarding. It is our responsibility to recognize our partners when they are bringing in a new customer or a new portfolio.

NetApp believes in investing in our partners and has skilling initiatives that empower them to pass on the message of NetApp being the data authority in the hybrid cloud. With today’s cutting-edge technologies like AI/ML, DevOps, & IoT, we are building a robust ecosystem with partners, helping them understand NetApp’s role in these technologies, and enabling them to take it forward. When we talk about changes, it is essentially helping the partners evolve and work along, one step at a time.

What are some of the innovations that NetApp is bringing to the market that can hold great relevance in today’s times?

Today, every business is compelled to look at the bigger picture. COVID-19 has brought about an urgency to respond to unique IT demands of building infrastructure, which is more agile and reliable. A latest IDC report predicts that 64% of Indian organizations will be adopting cloud computing because of ramping up their remote working capabilities.

To help customers create a competitive edge in this ever-changing market, we inked strategic partnerships with Ingram Micro and Google Cloud Advance to help enterprises take advantage of the agility and benefits of the cloud with advanced data management and performance driven solutions. We announced ONTAP 9.6 to help businesses maximize the value of their data. We are now expanding the availability of Azure NetApp Files, our liaison with Microsoft’s fast-growing enterprise file storage service to India, to help our existing and potential customers, across the country, who are working with 100% remote workers. This would enable them to migrate and run complex, performance-intensive and latency-sensitive applications faster in the cloud than they can on-premises. We are also offering free storage on Google Cloud for IT teams addressing the digital fallout of the pandemic.

In the past 4-5 months, NetApp has also acquired a suite of technology companies to help integrate their offerings and provide more holistic solutions to customers. NetApp has solidified its cloud solution suite with the following acquisitions:

  • Virtual desktop infrastructure firm CloudJumper to address the increased market requirement of the work-from-home model in the COVID era
  • Spot, a leader in compute management and cost optimization now enables businesses to optimize their cloud resources
  • Talon Storage, a leader in next generation software-defined storage solutions enabling global enterprises to centralize and consolidate IT storage infrastructure to the public clouds

What are some of the new partner programmes that NetApp has expanded/came up with to support the partners in these difficult times?

We continue to monitor the business climate and changes in technology and the industry as well as listen to both partners and customers on a regular basis. As the year progresses, we will keep collaborating with our partners on different programs and initiatives, with an eye towards more simplification, increased profitability, and additional ways for our partners to differentiate the offerings to boost customer experience. With partner initiatives such as Data Visionary Club and an evolved Unified Partner Program, we are aiming at better customer and partner experience to further strengthen the foundation for capturing the market share. Very recently, we have evolved the NetApp Unified Partner Program (UPP) which focuses on the following four core tenets:

Simplification: We are unifying contracts and agreements with a goal of having one contract for partners, regardless of how they do business with us. We have streamlined our guides and policies, and will now offer fewer, more focused, annual deal-based incentive programs and rebate programs for growth.

Expansion: We are expanding the ecosystem, helping our partners by giving them access to our resources, tools and enablement and a clear path to growth. We have crafted NetApp Learning Services training programs for cloud partners, providing them an avenue to achieve the Cloud First Preferred Business Capability.

Investment: NetApp will continue to invest in tools like WorkSpan that make planning and doing business together easier. The new NetApp Partner Incentive Tool makes it easier to manage and measure investments in marketing development funds (MDF) and rebates and rewards.

Differentiation: We will showcase partners with specific and focused specializations and business capabilities, highlighting those who provide services across key focus areas, including XaaS, SAP, services, and more. We have updated the FlexPod specialization, simplifying the requirements, enhancing the financial benefits, and adding marketing to support partners’ selling efforts.

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