Nutanix adds Canadian channel sales director

Steve Kaplan, vice president of channel and strategic sales at Nutanix.

Steve Kaplan, vice president of channel and strategic sales at Nutanix.

Nutanix is borrowing an approach that has proved successful south of the border to help bolster its business through the channel in Canada.

The company has appointed Frank Czyz as director of channel sales with responsibility for Canada as well as the western United States, and one of his first initiatives will be to ramp up enablement for the company top partners in Canada. Steve Kaplan, vice president of channel and strategic sales at Nutanix, said the company has identified “around eight” top partners in Canada who will get a deep dive in terms of enablement and support from the vendor. Kaplan said the company’s goal is to double the pipeline for those eight partners over the next 90 days.

“We’ve done a pretty good job of building a channel, and now it’s matter of getting more yield out of fewer partners, really getting that force multiplier going,” Kaplan said. “We don’t have the biggest channel from a resources perspective, so we have to manage those we’ve selected.”

Going deeper with its top partners in Canada signals a change in approach for Nutanix. Kaplan said that in the past the company has been “pretty opportunistic” about headquarters support for Canadian GM Anton Granic’s efforts to grow the business in Canada. But with Czyz in place, the goal will be to be much more aligned with its top partners here in Canada.

“We have a lot of work to do around enablement,” Czyz said. “Over the next 30 days, the priority is to get intimate time with those eight partners, help them position us and build net new business, to really build that massive pipeline we’ve been looking for.”

Currently, the majority of leads flow from the vendor to its channel partners – the company, in Canada and elsewhere, does 100 per cent of its business through the channel. Kaplan said a major goal is to enable those top eight partners to be more proactive in going after Nutanix opportunities themselves, to “get a closer balance of trade” between leads that come in from the vendor, and those partners bring to Nutanix.

The strategy follows a similar approach to top partners taken in the U.S. market last year. Kaplan said that approach has resulted in a major uptick for the company with its top partners, who now account for “over 50 per cent of revenues and increasing” in the U.S. market. The company has also seen partner-generated leads increase to the point where its focus partners in the U.S. now account for about 60 per cent of leads generated, another result the hyperconverged vendor would very much like to see repeated in Canada.

To allow that to happen, Czyz and his team know they’ll have to drive a lot of education down to partners, because the company acknowledges it’s “a more complex sale than many of our peers” when facing customers.

“It’s a story, a journey about Web-scale infrastructure,” Czyz said.

Partners outside that focus group will continue to be identified, enabled and managed by the Nutanix Canada field team, and Czyz said that programming and activation “will be part of the territory managers’ day-to-day activities.” He also signaled that the company would lean further on its distribution partners to help identify, develop, and enable the broader partner community.

The hyperconverged space is growing rapidly, and is drawing the attention of industry giants like VMware and EMC, who have rolled out their own solutions in the space over the last month. EMC is the most recent arrival, with its VSPEX Blue introduction this month. But Kaplan doesn’t see other hyperconverged vendors as his target market – he’s got a much bigger opportunity in mind, the mass of data centre customers who are still in a more traditional environment. The server and storage data centre equipment market is a $73 billion opportunity, IDC says. And that’s what Kaplan says Nutanix has in its sights.

“All of the hyperconverged vendors out there haven’t even put a dent in that, so we’ve got a long way to go before we start bumping into our fellow hyperconverged players,” Kaplan said.

Czyz added that new players, particularly those of the scale and market clout of VMware and EMC, help to validate the hyperconverged idea in customers’ minds, and that once there, Nutanix, as an originator of the market, gets some home court advantage.

“We welcome any of the new players to the market. It’s additive,” he said. “When we start seeing hyperconverged players showing up in a deal, the hard work is done. Then it’s just a matter of focusing on positioning our solution as the superior option.”