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EMC Talks About the Massive Opportunities for Channel Partners

Interviewed on Jul 13, 2012 by Yogesh Gupta, ChannelWorld India

Gregg Ambulos, SVP, Global Channel Sales, EMC, talks about the colossal opportunities for channel partners.

Gregg Ambulos
Gregg Ambulos, SVP, Global Channel Sales, EMC The objective of VSPEX is to address customer challenges. We have the best of both worlds with VSPEX now and with Vblock launched 18 months ago.

Interview Questions

Full Interview with Gregg Ambulos

CW : Is there a push within EMC to move away from its storage vendor image?

Ambulos: If you look at our cloud and big data play, we are extremely well positioned. Our portfolio is second to none. The amount of data we will all create by 2020, will be about fifty times what it is today—and 50 percent of that will be big data. A lot of that data will be unstructured in nature and that’s where our Isilon technology provides us a real competitive edge. Analytics from Greenplum appliances is also another vital piece. EMC continues to add vital pieces to the overall picture through acquisitions and portfolio expansion to enable customers on their journey to the cloud.

Storage has been and will remain our core competency. From a single product, Symmetrix, we transitioned from being a hardware-centric company to a storage-solutions company. We also have ownership in VMware (a non-storage company) and will continue to diversify across innovative technologies.

CW : NetApp is replacing EMC accounts at a fair clip. How are you safeguarding your enormous installed base?

Ambulos: I wasn’t familiar with NetApp replacing EMC. In and outsideIndia, we are taking market share from NetApp. Not only does VNX compete aggressively with Network Appliance, but NetApp has no answer to Isilon’s scale out technology. From EMC’s perspective, we continue to work with partners and stay close to our customers with any opportunities they have. And we try to keep competition away.

The private cloud reference architecture, VSPEX, is a game changer. Whether it is HP, IBM, or NetApp in an account, the objective of VSPEX is to address customer challenges. We have the best of both worlds with VSPEX, and with Vblock that was launched 18 months ago.

CW : VSPEX competes with NetApp’s FlexPod and others. But VMAX means VSPEX competes with Cisco’s UCS server (which forms the cornerstone of VCE). How do you address the possible dichotomy here?

Ambulos: I think they (VSPEX and VCE) compliment each other. For fully-converged infrastructure, Vblock is the only solution out there today. I believe NetApp introduced FlexPod as an answer to Vblock but it (FlexPod) does not provide fully-converged infrastructure. If an enterprise wants to go down the private cloud route with different technology alliances, then VSPEX is an apposite choice.

A partner often approaches an account that already has an investment in x86 technologies around HP, IBM or Dell and virtualized on VMware, Citrix or Microsoft. Maybe they have invested in Brocade rather than Cisco. That’s why we created alternatives through VSPEX, and therein lies a big opportunity for partners around cloud infrastructure.

CW : Does that imply that VSPEX is a subset of VCE?

Ambulos: No. VSPEX is an EMC brand working with tech vendors, while VCE is a separate entity selling Vblock. VSPEX, from EMC’s standpoint, is an opportunity to empower channels working with technology alliance partners. We were tactical with alliance partners like Cisco, Brocade, Microsoft earlier, but we are marketing VSPEX solutions together with joint initiatives around demand generation and joint-training. An enterprise partner can sell both.

CW : EMC is spearheading reference architectures like VCE and VSPEX which means solution providers need to invest in skilled manpower and T&C. Where’s the money for those partnering with VSPEX?

Ambulos: The entire non-named business is exclusive for partners including mid-market, SMBs, and number of large accounts. In the past, it was restricted to channel-only segments within the EMC selling model, but now, virtually the entire spectrum is dedicated to the partner community. The entire landscape is open to the partner community, which creates a greater opportunity and more significant ROI for them.

In non-named areas, certified EMC partners can deliver services for margin enhancements and stickiness with customers. We bring in the partner (in non-named account) by the second call into an EMC-found opportunity. Articulating their value to the customer, they can get good margins as they control deals including designing solutions and services around it. EMC wins because they have reach, and the partner wins by being a strategic advisor.

CW : How are you building an army of partners for VSPEX in India?Are you limiting it to EMC channels?

Ambulos: Are you limiting it to EMC channels? Distributors Ingram and Redington have been trained and they are aggressively identifying partners interested in VSPEX, irrespective of whether they are EMC partners or not. They are training partners to position VSPEX effectively. In 2011, we announced the first channel-exclusive product, VNXe, and later followed with dd160. Now VSPEX is 100 percent a channel model. EMC has transitioned from being a direct sales organization to a place where almost 50 percent of our business comes through channels.

CW : The EMC Velocity Solutions Provider Partner Program is quite successful. How has the program evolved?

Ambulos: The Velocity program, which was earlier based purely on revenues, is today a competency-based program. We added specialties and encouraged our partners to build capabilities like back up recovery and archive, advance consolidation around VMax, and others. As a result, a regional partner with superior specialties could lose out to a national partner in terms of revenues. Hence a big change was made in the program.

More specialties are being added to the program around big data for partners to enhance margins and revenues. Under the Focus program, we streamlined the process for a single point PRM for Isilon, BRS, and others. Velocity is the umbrella program and then specialties like VSPEX, Cloud Builder, and other programs fall under it.

CW : EMC is more excited over big data than other vendors. But few large enterprises in India have data sets in that size. Your comments?

Ambulos: Big data is not just about the volume of data but also the velocity and complexity of data. Hence smaller organizations that need real-time analytics will go down the big data route. We are educating partners to understand which enterprise customers are fit for big data. They are trained to pitch VNX versus Isilon accordingly. Besides partners deploying Isilon, partners buying into cloud and big data are adopting Greenplum too.

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