Partner first strategy backs up Commvault’s channel play: Mark Fong

We are more than committed to improve partner experience of channels that are doing business with us, says Mark Fong, APJ Channel Chief at Commvault. 


A provider of enterprise backup, recovery, and data management across any hybrid environment, Commvault is ramping its channel partner ecosystem globally.

The data backup and recovery company appointed Mark Fong as APJ Channel Chief five months ago to strengthen its channel strategy in the region. ChannelWorld India had an interaction with Mark Fong, Vice President of Channels & Alliances, Asia Pacific and Japan, Commvault, for an update on company’s road ahead with back up market, channel blueprint and technology priorities for 2019 and beyond.

Edited Excerpts

What definite opportunities exist with Commvault’s channel partners across APJ region? Do you lately see backup and recovery move up the priority list for CIOs?

Commvault’s ecosystem of alliance partners, value added resellers, distributors and service providers throughout Asia Pacific and Japan provide a very big opportunity for us. RoI for any technology investment is definitely important because as a CIO you need to justify your spend. But a common message across APJ region is that companies and their users want to have their data accessible at anytime, anywhere and on any cloud. 

Backup and DR solutions have moved up the value chain for organisations. The recent security breaches have made it imperative that data management and its protection are given top priority. Security isn’t always about end point or firewall, but it comes down to accessing your data in the right secure manner.

Commvault’s converged data management solution redefines backup means for modern enterprise through its offerings that protect, manage and use their most critical asset — their data.

Why Channels should speak often with LOBs, CXOs : Mark Fong


CIOs work with the LOBs more frequently and most of the times they have to justify their existence in the company.


The decision making have changed across C-suite in companies depending on company size and reporting protocol.


Channels needs to step up their VAR nomenclature as value add is not just to move Commvault product but also to strike business level conversations, with the right people in the end user organisations.


Channel Partners need to extract the exact requirements and go back to their customers with data management solution (Back Up, Recovery etc.) that fits their business users’ requirement.

What are the brownie points or credentials you seek in a channel partner organisation that intends to align with Commvault?

From a partner perspective, I like to see how Commvault fits into channel partner’s portfolio of solutions because it’s always easier to pick up vendors, but if it doesn’t fit within the DNA of your company it’s a bad start.

Secondly, the capacity and capabilities of partners to understand backup and basic storage market to sell well to the end organisations. Besides storage focused partners, we do have IT infra partners specializing in HCI, compute, data management 

Potential channel partners should have the reach into business segments that we want to expand into. Most importantly, their commitment matters to us as a partner. In summary, capacity, capability and willingness to commit to a partnership with Commvault. 

Are new age partners like born in the cloud, MSPs part of your channel ecosystem? 

The company’s DNA remains spot-on as the source code has been kept the same from the start. The products have been kept the same but we have improved over the years. We haven’t had any drastic changes. thus making it easier for our partners to work with our portfolio and its integration in IT infra of their customers. Being true to our product line, we are trying to have a robust sales force unit from a channel partner perspective. 

Many ‘born in the cloud’, cloud service providers (CSPs) form a good part of our ecosystem as many end customers move to the cloud. And they consume a lot of storage, which is an area that Commvault has expertise in. But our biggest mix currently is from value added resellers (VARs) across regions. We see cloud partners and CSPs more into our fold as many traditional VARs are requesting our help to become ‘born in a cloud’ or ‘reborn in a cloud ’partner.

Compliance has been one of the key catalyst for back up and DR solutions especially in BFSI and healthcare. Which verticals have been Commvault’s sweet spots?

Absolutely. Compliance is where Commvault really excels across industries and across the globe. With data retention and data archiving with legal implications, Commvault solutions should be the first thing that comes to their mind when they think of compliance.

Our sweet spots have been BFSI, government and the industries with requirement for data retentions, compliance and risk management from a legal perspective. Not every customer has the exact needs, but we offer different solutions for specific industries but with the same functionality keeping in mind the standards used by banks and legal enterprises. 

... From a partner perspective, I like to see how Commvault fits into channel partner’s portfolio of solutions because it’s always easier to pick up vendors. But if it doesn’t fit within the DNA of your company, then it’s a bad start.
Mark Fong
Vice President of Channels and Alliances, Asia Pacific and Japan, Commvault

IT budgets are not emerging entirely from CIO teams with a substantial chunk (an average 40 to 50%) coming out of from LOBs, CXOs and others. Is the time right for channels to spend more time with business stakeholders at their customer end? 

We have seen that shift probably in the last few years. It is definitely a line of business that comes up with requirement - maybe someone in finance or Business Development department could ask the CIO to give some access or another capability related to data management. Or the IT team can build it for them. 

That’s where we expect our resellers to step up and do justice to their ‘Value Added Resellers’ nomenclature because the value add is not to simply move the Commvault product, but strike these conversations at a business level, with the right people in the end user organisations.

Channel partners need to extract the exact requirements and go back to their customers with data management solution (Back Up, DR etc.) that fits their business users’ requirement. That’s definitely a trend we see across a lot of different industries that we typically sell into.

Business owners in digital era are demanding their IT teams to act fast with a short project or ad-hoc digital marketing campaign for instance. Have the tables turned for CIOs? 

I believe so, as digital transformation era is really keeping CIOs and CTOs on their toes. When I started working in the industry two decades ago, CIOs and CTOs of the companies were like the kings. But now they have to work with the lines of business (LOBs) more frequently and most of the times they have to justify their existence in the company. Like the company CEO or CXO could ask the CIO - Why didn’t you think of this digital initiative? Why my banking competitor is benefiting more from technology in their mobile banking. 

CIOs need to know their company’s customers’ demands and become a partner of LOBs. CIOs and their teams will implement technology in best possible way as per business demand and seldom question the investment. The decision making (for IT investments) has definitely changed across C-suite in companies depending on company size and reporting protocol.

What have been Mark’s successful channel mantras and have they changed over the years? 

While vendor executives use terms like partner-centric or partner friendly, it’s really partner first for Commvault and me. Because partner friendly or partner-centric vendor often puts channels under its operations team and  it's like running a process. But for a partner first, it’s like everything you work towards as a company should be with a partner perspective – be it building systems, deal registrations, incentives. 

We are helping partners with MDFs and digital initiatives to digitally enable them in front of their customers as it keeps partners updated on digital marketing, online campaigns and the likes of those. 

As a partner first company, we want to go deeper on some of our select partners in each of our countries of operations.  Commvault is more than committed to improve partner experience of channels doing business with us. 

Mark’s Top Agenda for 2019


Commvault to be a partner first company.


Go deeper on some select partners in each countries of operations. 


Improve partner experience of channels doing business with us.

What is the overall channel expansion strategy across the region? For example in countries like India, are you going deep with existing partners or spraying the market to on board more partners? 

Commvault works with distributors across regions and also directly with a focused set of channel partners (VARs and SIs). The strategy varies depending on the market dynamics and demand for technologies we operate in.

India is one of the fastest growing markets in APAC as compared to Australia with regard to channel maturity to the digital transformation era. When we started the business in India we had to widen the channel base as we were a new entrant.
Currently, we aren’t going to consolidate much as we go deeper in our engagement with earlier partners and our distributors manage the rest (of channel expansion and engagement) for us. We want to be lean and focused as we surely want to go deeper with some of our key channel partners. 

If you were given a crystal ball to predict big trends of 2019 what would they be? Do you still see IoT and AI in the ‘over hype’ phase? 

The big trends for us is, definitely, everyone moving to the cloud – whether AWS or other cloud services. Multi-cloud will really take off in the next 12 months. A single enterprise customer will probably have access to 6 to 7 different multi-cloud providers and that’s where I want Commvault to be as the one common platform for any enterprise or mid- market customer to have multi-cloud providers but a single source of back-up across all clouds.  

Trends like IoT and AI will only get more real or mainstream. The good part about IoT, AI, machine learning is that deploying these technologies leads to more storage that needs more capacity and the escalated requirement for back up. It’s a fantastic trend for Commvault business.

Does Commvault solution ensure a good sleep to CIOs and their IT teams who are often fearful of their company and or customer data will get lost?

Absolutely. I would like to think Commvault solutions are like a good sleeping pill for them. They can sleep well and wake up to find their data safe and instantly accessible. I hope Commvault to not be a nightmare but a sweet dream for organisations’ tryst with data management with us.