Mike Parrottino, NetAlly's CEO, who has a long channel background at HP, talks with ChannelBuzz about his new company, and how the channel will fit in.
Last week, NetAlly, which has previously been a business unit of NETSCOUT, officially rebranded, to form a new company fully dedicated to handheld testing solutions. The operation thus returns to its roots, having been a part of Fluke Networks before its acquisition by NetScout in 2014. It was purchased by private equity firm StoneCalibre last September, and was originally known as LinkRunner. Long-time HP exec Mike Parrottino took over the helm at that time, and has now been appointed the CEO of NetAlly. He talked with ChannelBuzz about his route to this role, and his plans for the future.
Parrottino’s track record before this role is both logical and curious in terms of fit. He has a long pedigree as a channels guy, starting over thirty years ago, when he was a channel account manager for Compaq, with the highlight being the six years he spent as VP of Channels, in HP’s Personal Systems Group between 2002 and 2008. On the other hand, his focus has been on big devices, not on the more specialized kind of testing solutions NetAlly sells
“I started in the old Compaq days, with the big portable luggable devices and helped them build their channel organization back in the early days,” Parrottino said. “My affinity is helping the channel grow their business. I went to HP when we were acquired, and when HP split, I went to HPE and ran two pieces of business, the US distribution business and a new sales organization to stand up SME, both of which had a major channel reach.”
The commonality of channel reach and touch into the market is the major unifying threads between his old line and the new, Parrottino stressed.
“I did a joint venture with cable and wireless back in the Compaq days, but what intrigued me with this company is that they were located here in Colorado, and the engineering legacy,” Parrottino said. “Back in the Fluke days, there were a lot of engineers, and that legacy, around both wired and wireless, has continued. Our networking tools provide that capability, and take away from the complexity of managing a big network. Our products are revered and coveted by customers. And we are building out a deep embedded immersive relationship with partners.”
So why spin out the company at all, given that Netscout was the market leader in the overall space, while NetAlly will be a startup?
“There are a lot of instances where companies start out in one area and make investments in different areas,” Parrottino said. “NetScout is more focused on data centre security and applications. The component that became NetAlly was acquired through Fluke and Danheer, but it’s not a core competency. StoneCalibre, the company that bought us, saw this the same as me, and saw the compelling products. That’s why they decided to divest back in September.”
Parrottino stressed that the transition will be seamless from an R&D perspective.
“All of the relevant people came over to NetAlly. It was a separate entity inside the big company, so life wasn’t as complex as it looked from the outside in. Being separate gives us the independence and nimbleness you would expect from a smaller company – even though we have 50,000 customers.”
NetAlly was originally a brand of Viola, whose assets were acquired by Fluke Networks many years ago. It was chosen as the name for the new company, even though there isn’t really a direct link from a product perspective.
“The original NetAlly line consisted of three VOiP solutions, and it didn’t go very far for various reasons, but we did retain the trademark,” said Stefan Pracht, NetAlly’s SVP of Marketing & Operations.
The NetAlly brands include the LinkSprinter Pocket Network Tester, LinkRunner Network Auto-Tester, OneTouch AT Network Assistant, AirCheck G2 Wireless Tester, and the AirMagnet Mobile solutions.
Coincident with the rebranding, NetAlly is announcing version 4.0 of its software for the AirCheck G2 Wi-Fi tester.
“The big thing here us the addition of the visibility of 802.11ax networks – Wi-Fi 6 for the AirCheck G2 Wi-Fi tester,” Pracht stated. “Very few devices today support Wi-Fi 6, but the support is still increasingly important to customers, who want to be able to manage it in case employees do bring in their own devices that have it.”
In addition to the Wi-Fi 6 support, NetAlly is also announcing that AirCheck G2 is the first tool to integrate with new Link-Live Cloud Service enhancements.
“Link-Live is a cloud service that provides centralized management of network test results and site data capture, which is designed to be easy to use by less technical people,” Pracht said. “It is the universal platform that comes with purchase of our product. The enhancements are that we have now furthered the depth around data analysis and sharing, and that we have now given customers access to the Link-Live APIs. Previously, it was a closed system, and now we have opened that up.”
There will be more of significance to come, Stefan added.
The key issues the market wants to know, Parrottino said, Is what changes, and what doesn’t change.
“What doesn’t change is the focus on a best-in-class customer and partner experience,” he said. “The product portfolio now is solid and we will build off that. We have a great R&D team, with a strong legacy in testing and troubleshooting. We will continue to use Link-Live as our cloud platform and add value to customers.
“What does change, is that there will be a lot more emphasis on the channel,” he said. “We will build out a real solid and immersive relationship with channel partners. Many of my relationships with distribution remain today. Ingram is one of our global distributors. We have talked with them about enhancing our relationship. We have just under 100 partners globally, including some large ones like CDW, WWT, SHI, and Greybar. It is many of the same partners as HP, although certainly not the depth and breadth, and it is more focused specifically on network troubleshooting.
“As a standalone company, we will also be able to build out a more entreprenurial approach than was possible as part of a large organization,” Parrottino added.