New Nutanix North American channel chief pledges more emphasis on distribution

Christian Alvarez, who comes over from Juniper where he was Global Channel Chief, also pledges a focus on simplicity, and to do a good job of listening to partners.

Christian Alvarez, new Vice President, Americas Channel, at Nutanix

Today, Nutanix is announcing the appointment of Christian Alvarez as Vice President, Americas Channel.

Alvarez started his career in the channel, working for over eight years at a Florida-based integrator. Since then, he has worked for networking and telecom providers, with his most recent stint being at Juniper.

“I was at Juniper for four and a half years, climbing up in the partner organization until I was named Worldwide Head of Channels & Distribution in April,” Alvarez said. I was approached by Nutanix several months ago, which is a technology partner of Juniper. I wasn’t looking to move, but I was intrigued by the company and we engaged in a discussion.”

Alvarez noted that Nutanix had both revolutionized their industry with hyperconverged infrastructure, and then reshaped their business model on the fly as the broader cloud space evolved.

“They made a bold move of transitioning from a hardware and software company to one that is purely software,” he said. “It paralleled the decision I had to make myself where I reached this crossroads about whether I stay in hardware or pivot to software with the industry. My mind and heart is 100 per cent with software.”

In their Q4 results reported two weeks ago, Nutanix lost money again, but lost less than analysts had estimated. Much of their decrease in revenue stems from the transition of their business model, with a decline in pass-through hardware sales and other costs involved in the transition to a subscription-based business model.

“The Q4 results were stellar, and the market reacted well to them,” Alvarez said. “We also added 990 new customers. The company consciously made a decision to get into subscription-based software. That was a challenge. Many companies have tried that. Some have failed miserably. Nutanix went through these struggles and is coming out extremely well.”

Alvarez said that Nutanix’s core elements remain strong.

“It’s very much a customer first environment,” he stated. “Before coming here, I talked with partners and customers and asked why they were there. Partners said that Nutanix was loyal, and that they make money selling them. Nutanix also has the highest Net Promoter Score in the industry.”

Alvarez enters Nutanix following Rodney Foreman’s exit as global channels leader earlier this year, with VP of sales strategy Bob Wallace adding the channel duties on an interim basis.

“At the end of the day, it’s the same organization,” Alvarez said. “It’s about the evolution of the partner organization and the partner strategy.”

Alvarez said that while the core model of resellers and distribution will not change, they are making tweaks to the strategy.

“Partner strategy changes somewhat for all of the right reasons,” he said. “The company has transformed, and that involves changing programs, incentives, and sometimes partners that you have. I want to build on top of the program that Nutanix has today, to make it strong for where Nutanix is going.”

Alvarez stressed that while the company has evolved well as it has changed massively, and the portfolio has expanded over the years, he sees areas where things could be improved.

“We haven’t done a good job at focusing on the broad channel – the distribution managed channel,” he said. “The next stage of our channel strategy will focus on those low touch partners. I’m absolutely convinced that will be a great area for growth. The power of distribution is incredible. I’m a big believer in distribution if you use them the right way.”

While distributors will play a more important role, the existing North American lineup – Arrow, Tech Data, Promark and Carahsoft – isn’t likely to change.

“I’m very pleased with the distributors we have today, but Ill double-click on our strategy so we can work even closer with them,” Alvarez said.

He also indicated that there would be a doubling down on simplicity.

“I want a relentless focus on simplicity, to make sure we have the right incentive programs so partners make more money selling Nutanix. There will be some tweaks. I’m asking partners where we have friction, and what we need to focus on.”

That involves listening to partners better than has sometimes been the case in the past.

“At times, we have fallen short of listening to partners effectively,” he stated. “I’m committed to listening to partners, so that we can partner effectively and with simplicity.”

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