Joe Barnes joins Hammerspace to run channel-centric global file system strategy

Coincident with the announcement of Barnes’ official appointment, Hammerspace announces their first channel partner program.

Joe Barnes, Hammerspace’s Director of Global Channel Sales

Data management startup Hammerspace has made a pair of announcements. They have officially announced the hiring of Joe Barnes, Cohesity’s first channel chief, as their Director of Global Channel Sales. Not coincidentally, they have also announced the Hammerspace Channel Program, the company’s first. Barnes, who actually joined Hammerspace in September, and has been putting together the program since, talked with ChannelBuzz at last week’s AWS Re:Invent event in Las Vegas, where Hammerspace was an exhibitor.

Hammerspace, for those of readers who did not grow up watching cartoons made before 1970, is the invisible nether that Bugs Bunny reaches into to get the anvil that he drops into Yosemite Sam’s lap to send him crashing to earth – or the hammer he produces to hit him over the head. The company sees its value as being analogous to that.

“We basically enable a company’s data to be like it’s coming out of a hammerspace,” Barnes said. “We provide data-as-a-service where we make the data itself smart by making it self-aware and self-managed. We solve a lot of different problems related to data, which helps companies be more agile.”

Specifically, Hammerspace is a global file system that abstracts all of the metadata from the data, regardless of where the data sits on any storage product.

“We then we put all that metadata into a file system and allow you to manage it through one global namespace,” Barnes said. “That in itself is not unique. But we can enforce the policies at a granular file level. We automate and orchestrate the movement and management of that data to keep it all in compliance. Our file system makes the file look local to both sides, without having to move whole files and volumes. That speeds up time to value.”

Hammerspace principally competes against a variety of specialized data movers like Panzera, Nasuni and Komprise.

The company is barely over a year old, having been officially formed in 2018, but that’s a little misleading, and there is a story there, which Barnes explained. The company’s DNA goes back to CEO David Flynn’s previous company, Primary Data. Flynn, who was the founder of flash pioneer Fusion-io, founded Primary Data after the sale of Fusion-io in 2014. While well-funded, that startup ran into problems, and by early 2018 had disappeared into a hammerspace of its own. Hammerspace is the successor company.

“The IP was created under Primary Data, so the company is further along in its path to market than a normal year-old company,” Barnes indicated.

Still, Barnes acknowledged that bringing in a channel specialist like himself in the early Go-to-Market days is an aggressive move.

“I’m still a little bit early, but they realized that they will need the expertise of the channel to succeed, and needed somebody to define a strategy to accelerate the early stage business,” he said

The goal, Barnes emphasized, is to build out a select channel of focused partners.

“The plan is to recruit less than 50 partners in the first year,” he said. “We are looking at more advanced solution providers who are systems integrator-like – although we are not targeting larger SIs.”

Barnes indicated that key target verticaks include  media and entertainment, financials, oil and gas, and university research. The five principal use cases are: moving file data to the cloud without disruption; sharing file data for multi-office and follow-the-sun workflows; centralizing backup data on the cloud; initiating disaster recovery at any site; and managing and protecting persistent data in Kubernetes.

“We need partners in each of these,” Barnes indicated.

Barnes described the new channel program as “rudimentary,” and something that is likely to be built out further as the channel expands.

“There is a referral-only tier, and a full reseller tier,” he said. “The subscription licensing model has guaranteed margins to partners, with additional incentives for deal registrations.” The program also offers channel incentives for building pipeline, free certification training for sales reps and engineers, and sales support from Hammerspace.

Marketplaces are an important part of the Go-to-Market strategy, which explains Hammerspace’s presence at AWS Re:Invent.

“We are in the AWS Marketplace today, as well as the Google Marketplace, and we are looking at being in the Azure Marketplace in Q1,” Barnes said. “A number of customers are moving from on-prem to cloud, and we were also interested in talking with customers born in AWS about how we can help them. The big thing we provide that AWS doesn’t have is the level of file services that we provide in S3.”