Cohesity ups investment in Canada and looks to drive deeper into midmarket

Cohesity hopes to outgrow its new offices in the GTA, which will be filled both with new engineers for the company’s R&D operations, and new sales people working with the partners who are their sole route to market. 

Satinder Sharma, Director of Product Solutions Engineering at Cohesity

Hyperconverged secondary storage vendor Cohesity has kicked off what it anticipates will be a multi-stage expansion of its presence in Canada. It is announcing plans to expand their Canadian-based research and development – significantly. They will be significantly enhancing their Canadian headcount with new engineers, and will also be expanding their sales presence as well. As a consequence, they have opened new offices in the Greater Toronto area, which they expect to outgrow. They also expect to see a major expansion beyond their largely enterprise presence today, and move more deeply into the midmarket.

“One of our first system engineers in North America was hired in Canada,” said Satinder Sharma, Director of Product Solutions Engineering at Cohesity. “One of our first customers back in the day was in Canada. We have had a presence in Canada for some time. What we are doing now is expanding that presence. We are expanding our engineering presence in Canada, tapping into the country’s tech talent. We are also expanding our sales presence, increasing our organization.” The plan ultimately is to expand the Canadian-based staff to about 100 people.

Cohesity launched in June 2015 with a focus on bringing the benefits of hyperconverged infrastructure [HCI] specifically to the backup space. Since then, they have expanded their platform’s functionality, with scale-out NAS and with file and object storage to provide an archiving capability. Their recently-announced Marketplace is designed to further expand the offerings available on their platform.

Until now, their Canadian-based presence in Canada has not been insignificant, but it has been primarily distributed. Sales and engineering are also managed separately. Sharma, who is based in Toronto, runs Canadian product solutions engineering.  The country manager for sales is Jay Hardwick, who is based in Vancouver, and will remain there even when the new office is running full-blast.

“Jay has to travel all the time, so it really doesn’t matter where he is based,” Sharma commented.

Today, there are multiple sales teams, consistent of a salesperson and a pre-sales engineer, in the Greater Toronto area. They also have regional teams covering Calgary and the Ottawa-Montreal-Quebec City area. Jennifer Judge runs these channel sales teams.

Cohesity has a 100 per cent channel sales model, and recently moved to Tier Two distribution, signing an exclusive North American distribution deal with Tech Data at the end of 2018. Their focus is on working with a smaller number of partners, rather than a broad base, and their product through distribution is only available to authorized resellers. That’s a global model, not just applicable to Canada, but here it means that their channel consists of a small number of national and boutique partners.

“CDW, Scalar, Softchoice and Compugen are the top ones, although there are a couple of others, and a small number of boutique partners,” Sharma said. “We want to work with a fairly small group of partners so that they get the full value of being a partner with us.”

Sharma said that the deals are a mixture of ones brought in by the partners and by Cohesity’s sales team.

“The percentage of each varies based on the region,” he said. “A partner may find an opportunity and bring it back to us and register it and we work with them to design a solution for the customer. In other cases. our inside sales people find an opportunity and bring in a local channel partner.”

Cohesity also has two important strategic partnerships with HPE and Cisco, both of whom are investors in the company.

“We have a very close relationship with both of them,” Sharma indicated. “We are a member of HPE Complete and we recently deepened that relationship. With Cisco we just announced that we have joined the Cisco SolutionsPlus program, and are now on their price list. We are a part of their solution, so that Cisco sales people can use Cohesity sales to meet their quota. These two partnerships are particularly important in Canada. A lot of our larger deals have been software only, so they are being sold with one of those hardware platforms.”

Cohesity defines itself primarily as an enterprise vendor, and while many vendors in that space accommodate to the fact that the Canadian market is overwhelmingly SMB, Sharma said that they have had success with Canadian enterprise customers – or at least customers with enterprise data requirements.

“I have worked for other younger companies, and Cohesity has had amazing success in the enterprise space,” he stated. “We are also strong in the midmarket space, and see that as a logical base to expand.” Three of Canada’s big banks are customers, as are largest banks, Air Bud Entertainment, Atomic Cartoons, the City of Hamilton, Colliers International, La Capitale, Mark Anthony Group, and ThinkOn.

The new office – the plan is that this will be a temporary one – is located near the airport.

“Most of the sales employees will still likely work from home, but there is space for about 35 people, and there is expansion room in the building for more, to around 75,” Sharma said. “The office was chosen mainly for the new engineering people.”

These new engineers are central to the Canadian expansion. The idea is to be able to have better access to the cream of the crop from Canada’s top engineering schools like the University of Waterloo and the University of Toronto.

“The engineering centre is the key here, and more of the new people will be on the technical side,” Sharma said. “They will span the whole area of product development. We already have people on the backbone data protection side. We will have more teams working on API integrations, as well as applications around Marketplace that was announced a few weeks back.”

Cohesity is not an inexpensive solution, but Sharma said that the ability of the platform to handle uses cases beyond backup makes TCO reasonable, even for value-conscious Canadian customers.

“We sell a lot on value and given that our platform can handle not only backup but scale-out NAS, this ability to run multiple use cases applies well to all size of customers,” he stated. “As you grow the number of use cases on the platform, the TCO does allow us to sell on value.”

The new resources should help to amplify Cohesity’s growth in Canada.

“We will take our strength in the enterprise and go after the midmarket space,” Sharma said. “I’m very confident we will be able to achieve that, and that a year from now, we hope to be in a much larger facility.”