Zadara looks to new 100% channel strategy to drive growth in hot storage-as-a-service market

New Senior Director of Channels Joe Sacchetti talks to ChannelBuzz about the storage-as-a-service provider’s pivot to a complete channel-focus, and the impact this will have on strategy going forward.

Joe Sacchetti, Zadara’s Senior Director of Channels

Enterprise storage-as-a-service provider Zadara, which recently added compute-as-a-service to their portfolio, has formally announced the hiring of two new sales executives for their North American team. Gene Cunningham is the new Vice President of Sales, and Joe Sacchetti is the Senior Director of Channels. While the company has had a hybrid Go-to-Market model historically, last year they made a commitment to a 100% channel model, and they are looking to that to continue positive sales momentum in 2021.

Sacchetti joined Zadara four months ago, with a resume that included channel management roles at Zerto, Fusion-io, Drobo and Dell EMC, with his most recent post being Global Vice President of Channel Sales at cloud SaaS company KeyedIn Solutions.

“Zadara is uniquely positioned in the market, which is at an inflexion point,” Sacchetti told ChannelBuzz. “We have a product that’s  easily packaged and ready to sell – and with excellent margins. No one gets out of bed for 6-8 points any more. We offer professional services opportunities for the channel. We offer full training, and eventually, certifications.” They also have been consistent, with 18 consecutive quarters of recurring revenue growth

While Zadara can accurately claim credit for being a pioneer in the storage-as-a-service space, that space has become very crowded, with each and every one of the big storage OEMs aggressively featuring it as a key part of their Go-to-Market model, and pledging to make all these offerings available as a service. Sacchetti said Zadara sees this as a good thing for them.

“We really feel that a rising tide raises all boats,” he stated. “This is a great thing. It’s clear that the industry is moving to the cloud. This was a necessary development, that buoys our presence. We have been doing this since 2011. We built our business around storage in the cloud. They built their business on hardware.”

Sacchetti noted that Zadara has a cloud-native billing engine, because they intended to sell it as a cloud service from the beginning, and we have made improvements to it over the nine years of its existence.

“And we aren’t just storage as a service,” he continued. “We have added compute-as-a-service, a month ago.” The production-ready fully managed compute-as-a-service solutions come through a technology partnership with NeoKarm, which makes a highly flexible multi-cloud hybrid platform.

Zadara started out with a direct sales model, and later added a channel to that, but as recently as a year ago, the channel accounted for only about half the company’s business.

“That’s the nature of the business, where people start up in direct fashion and pick up steam with the channel,” Sacchetti said. “Our visionary CEO said a year ago that he wanted our business to be 100% through the channel. When the CEO says ‘this is my vision,’ people fall in line. Today, 10% of our business is direct, and that’s all legacy in-house accounts. All of the new business goes through the channel.”

The channel is fairly select, with about 70 partners in North America, a number which has doubled in the past year.

“We could have 300 but prefer to go deeper,” Sacchetti said. “We look to form deep relationships with partners. We limit ourselves to partners who are skilled enough to talk Zadara talk, and a pretty good percentage of those, about 20%, will  lead with us.”

Sachetti said that Zadara is developing new channel relationships however, particularly beyond the usual suspects in the service provider/MSP sector.

“This industry has such an evolving look to its partners,” he indicated. “Many of our contemporaries missed the boat on that. We don’t intend to. We have a renewed interest in VARs. 2020 was the year of the MSP, and we think  2021 will be the year of the hybrid VAR/MSP. We are gearing toward them, as well as the pure MSPs. We also think the colo centres will be relevant as partners in 2021. They want to be more than landlords. We also see a good channel in small consultants and solution providers. Now that edge cloud lets you do compute and storage way out of the edge, that can be done by very small entities. Companies who do that can become a partner for us.”

Sacchetti said that the new commitment to the channel also means a commitment to increasing channel resources.

“We are putting a lot of investment in the channel, beyond our excellent margin that’s second to none,” he said. “We intend to put certifications on the partner portal in 2021, realizing that one of the pillars of success is ‘easy button.’ We will also continue to enable our partners to provide professional services. And we will further establish our global footprint, beyond the huge strides we have made in North America.”