Exclusive: New Cohesity channel chief Todd Palmer on his move from Palo Alto

Palmer discusses why he joined the high-flying startup, as well as the measures he wants to take to enhance Cohesity’s global 100 per cent channel strategy.

Todd Palmer, Cohesity’s new global channel chief

Santa Clara CA-based hyper-converged secondary storage vendor Cohesity has formally announced that Todd Palmer, who had been the channel VP for the Americas at Palo Alto Networks, has joined the company as the new VP of Worldwide Channels. ChannelBuzz met up with Palmer earlier this week in Las Vegas. We were in town to cover Dell EMC World. He was in town for a quarterly business review for the western U.S., and came over to the Dell EMC event to meet with partners. We got together and discussed the move, the new company, and his plans.

Palmer, who quietly moved over to Cohesity two months ago, noted that several factors induced him to make the change. First, it’s a promotion, not a lateral move, as he moves from an Americas channel job to a global one. Secondly, Mark Parrinello who recently joined Cohesity as their vice president of worldwide sales, is an old friend of Palmer’s going back to early in the century when they were at Computer Associates together.

“We have a long relationship together,” Palmer said. “His presence at Cohesity is a major reason I came over.”

Cohesity itself was another attraction, Palmer emphasized. The company, which first released its product to general availability in October 2015, falls into the intensely ambitious startup category. Their founder and CEO, Mohit Aron, was the co-founder of Nutanix — another company that falls into that category. While Nutanix has had an enormous impact in the hyper-converged primary storage market, Cohesity’s aim is to disrupt the secondary storage market in the same way. They define secondary storage broadly to encompass all kinds of data protection, including backup, archiving, test and dev, and analytics, and consolidate it all on a single platform. They have also been extending their platform’s capabilities, with the fourth generation this February allowing object storage and NAS to be added to their platform as well – although in a secondary rather than primary storage capability.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to work at two amazing channel companies – NetApp and Palo Alto,” Palmer said. “When I joined NetApp, it was a $2 billion company and I left when they were a $5 billion company. When I was recruited to Palo Alto, I was part of that same growth trajectory there. I want to be part of building something up from the ground level. My role at Cohesity is to help generate that same level of growth by building out the channel ecosystem, bringing in the best of the best from the channel, The Cohesity channel already includes some of the same integrator partners I was working with at Palo Alto.”

Cohesity has a 100 per cent sales model, and what Palmer referred to as a very strong channel program already in place.

“The channel program is already substantially built out, although these things are always ongoing and they always need to be enhanced,” Palmer said. “We need to keep developing better marketing and sales components to better assist partners to go to market.”

Former global channel chief Joe Barnes hasn’t gone anywhere, and has slid over to the Americas channel role.

“Joe has done an unbelievable job here, and he will report to me in the Americas role,” Palmer said. “Cohesity wanted to bring in someone with a track record of growing channels business worldwide. While I was in an Americas role in my highest profile roles at NetApp and Palo Alto, I have global experience elsewhere, including Computer Associates.”

Palmer said that strengthening that global component is a major part of his job,

“We are completely committed to the channel model, but we want to be able to work with and strongly support all our partners,” he said. “We don’t want to add a lot of partners we can’t support properly, so we are being very selective in our recruitment. We are strong in the United States and in parts of EMEA. But there are other parts of EMEA where we need to expand, We need to expand into the Asia Pacific region period. We also would like to expand in Canada, where we now have a couple of partners.”

Palmer said he also wants to diversify the partner base somewhat. Right now it is predominantly resellers and integrators.

“We would like to add partners in the service provider space, among the global integrators, and in the born-in-the-cloud community, with partners there who consult with enterprise customers,” he stated.

Palmer also emphasized that Cohesity’s secondary storage platform provides strong appeal to attract quality partners.

“Primary storage hasn’t exactly been a rich market for the channel lately,” he said. “On the other hand, the VC community has pumped $300 million into secondary store in the last couple of months alone. We provide primary storage partners with an incredible new opportunity.”