Reflections on delivering a fantastic experience for our channel and customers in 2022
Not being one to overthink new year’s resolutions, the end of the calendar year does create a natural pause for thought. Reviewing the prior twelve months, whilst thinking about what the next year or two will bring, is always an interesting and invigorating activity.
In my partner development role, I typically look for threads of commonality in what I have been hearing and seeing in the market, then try to envision the ‘desired end-state’ one year out for partners, customers, and ourselves. It was that same process that served us well at Isilon as we fully integrated our channel within the broader EMC ecosystem over a 3-year period, with a tacit goal of ‘no partner left behind’. We felt like new astronauts docking with the international space station. Not easy, and with some fine-tuning along the way, but ultimately achieving our goal while building a huge business together.
Having spent 2021 speaking with an eclectic mix of prospective partners on literally hundreds of video calls and in face-to-face “Momentum Tour” meetings each quarter as we recruited our inaugural SoftIron + Co. players, there has been a distinct and common theme emerging. Time-after-time, partner owners from both newer companies and industry stalwarts, said the same thing. Whilst invigorating to hear of opportunity on one level, it spoke to a lack of innovation in the way vendors serve the burgeoning storage needs of users and their purchasing channels.
Breaking away from the “same old, same old”…
In essence, the simple partner message was they are unenthusiastic about selling ‘the same old storage products’ from the past decade that are over-distributed, hard to deal-register and with little ability for the channel to add differentiation and extra value. They and their customers have been seeking something newer, more innovative and with more value add opportunity. And at the same time their customers want sustainable, resilient, Open solutions that enable different cloud scenarios – including ‘elusive-to-date’ true hybrid and multi-cloud options.
In general, they are leery of the hold the public cloud now have them under, being held hostage and subject to the inevitable backhaul costs to repatriate data for secondary or tertiary research and data analytics.
Delivering true, multi-faceted innovation
Needless to say, as an industry and channel veteran, one wants to see partners thriving with a great toolbox of products and services with which to delight end users. Competition in markets is good for all and keeps us on our toes. That said, it’s very gratifying to represent a company who has an audacious vision; a unique way of looking at the data center challenge; has answers to foundational security challenges; has given a lot of thought to cross-platform economies of scale; and where Green is implicit in everything we do.
Building the best channel in the industry
So, given the above while envisioning the SoftIron channel end-state for December 2022, I anticipate we’ll hand-pick around 25-30 more talented partners around the world, across all theaters. They will be equally excited by what we have on offer that’s very different to all other storage vendors, large and small. As the word gets out around our terrific edge manufacturing capabilities embodied in Australia during the first half of the year, the penny will drop about how that really demonstrates our promise of secure provenance which will create even more buzz and momentum around our company.
And, as with famous companies I worked at like Cisco, F5 and Isilon, the winners in the channel will be those forward-looking, early technology adopter VARS that jump in now and expose their installed base to what we have to offer as well as attracting new interest to mutual advantage.
‘The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades’ from Timbuk 3 in the 80s may seem a bit hackneyed today, but that sentiment resonates for me right now. Having seen how the market lit up in Europe in 2006 as we launched Isilon scale-out, pay-as-you-grow products back then, I see the same ‘Aha’ light bulbs going on as the SoftIron story unfolds.
The final moral of the tale is this: entrepreneurial and technical VARs, the train is leaving the station as we speak, so don’t wait much longer to punch your ticket and jump aboard.
All the very best for a safe, healthy, and prosperous 2022. At the very least, let’s compare notes in 12 months!