Don Lopes, Head of Channel at Nexenta
By Mark Cox
Santa Clara-based software-defined storage vendor Nexenta has named a new channel chief and unveiled a new worldwide Nexenta Partner Program (NPP), designed to capitalize on Nexenta’s broadening out of its solution set.
The new Head of Channel at Nexenta is Don Lopes, who came from SYNNEX’s cloud business, where he worked at helping partners make the change and transition to cloud. Previous to that, he ran worldwide channels at Meraki, and before that was with Wyse for nine and a half years before Dell acquired them.
“At Nexenta, we have a true solution offering with the ability to take a cutting edge software technology and bring it into a full solution – and which also has a heavy drag of other services and solutions behind it,” Lopes said.
Nexenta has around 5000 customers using around 900 PB of raw storage, ranging from very large service providers to companies in health care, media and entertainment,
“We break the lock that storage has around appliance-based models, and give customers flexibility to decouple that storage piece because we offer just the software itself,” Lopes said. “We don’t wrap it into a locked hardware configuration, so it can be fit in commodity hardware from Dell, Super Micro, HP and others.”
For years, Nexenta’s flagship product has been NexentaStor, a software-based appliance for both NAS and SAN that covers both file and block storage. However the company has begun a major expansion of its solution roster. Last month at Citrix Synergy they announced NexentaConnect for Citrix XenDesktop, a storage platform for Citrix cloud deployments.
“We also have a longer term vision around solutions that will soon be available,” Lopes said. “Nexenta Edge will expand our storage platform to object-based storage as well. Nexenta Fusion, near the end of the year, will provide single pane of glass management for any storage sub-system.”
Lopes said these investments that Nexenta is making across its organization are a key reason why Nexenta’s partner program needed to be updated and reworked going forward.
“We wanted to make sure we present partners with the right platform to be successful, to make it easier for them,” Lopes said. “We also wanted to fill some gaps, add some tools that weren’t there, and formalize things that had been more ad hoc.”
Lopes is driving the company’s go-to market strategy – one that is entirely channel driven. To this end, with the new program, they are introducing Channel Sales Managers to drive partners’ sales and marketing.
“These are brand new roles, and an investment in our sales organization,” he said. “We felt it was time for us to have sales people just dedicated to our partners.”
The new program has been simplified from three tiers to two.
“We think that two tiers is the best way to commit to the right set of partners making investments with us,” Lopes said. “There are Certified and Premier levels, with the Certified being the first starting point for new partners, and creating a path to get to the Premium evel. Lopes said Nexenta has about 300 partners worldwide, of which about 35% are here in the Americas. The ratio of Certified to Premier partners is about 80-20.
A Deal Registration program is part of the new program. The lack of one in the earlier program was a major gap that needed to be filled, Lopes said. The MDF element in the program has also been completely redesigned, to allow partners to take marketing initiatives more easily and make them more scalable. There is also a greater focus around lead generation.
New tools include a NPP Sales Starter Kit designed to help partners accelerate sales success.
“This is something we are excited to put out to the market,” Lopes said. “It is interactive, designed for new partners to sales train their team, or existing ones bringing on new reps, or those partners who want to re-engage with us. It contains sales scripts, email templates, and social media, and is designed to break down gaps between sales training and the momentum to start getting wins together. This bridges that gap.”
Lopes said that certification will be vital to the program, especially given the new solution sets available to partners.
“As we expand the solution set we will be scaling that certification program up, and you will see some exciting things there in the next 6-9 weeks,” he said.
Lopes said they expect that their existing partner base will jump at the chance to sell the new offerings, and would much prefer that to having to recruit a lot of new specialist partners.
“We are actively recruiting, but we also don’t want the complexity of having different sets of partners for different solutions,” he said.