"People don't really know us at all in many cases. We have been taken for granted. A major objective for me is to reintroduce ourselves to the channel this year."
That's the message from Arcserve's channel director Vince Blackall.
And he's not alone among backup legacy heavyweights in feeling "underappreciated" by partners.
CPI has also spoken to the global or EMEA channel bosses of Commvault, Veeam and Veritas in the last couple of months. Each one independently lamented that the channel is "misunderstanding" who they are.
Wanting to shed its industry reputation
All these vendors have been on realignment missions over the last couple of years.
All are keen to push the line that they are an "enterprise management platform", or an "end-to-end data management vendor".
Shedding the rather out-of-vogue "backup and recovery" tag is a familiar motif in this market.
However, there is a noticeable frustration among legacy vendors that many partners don't seem to be getting the message.
Veritas' EMEA boss Jamie Farrelly said convincing the channel of that is one of his top priorities.
"In the past, it's no secret that people would just say, ‘Oh, they're just data protection'. We are proud of that heritage but as the world moves, we want to be known for more than just one thing," he said.
"I think you can't really get on anymore if you're not more holistic. When you look at the new entrants to the market, yes, they're born in the cloud. But they're not truly holistic in the same sense we are.
"One of our biggest challenges is getting the channel to recognise this."
Using existing partners to help
Who better to assist these vendors than those they've already converted?
Arcserve's Blackall said he recognises the loyalty of existing partners as being essential.
"You always get your best revenue from the same collection of people who are committed to you. So I want to invest in those people," he said.
"Arcserve is a great brand and everybody knows it. But a lot of people who think they know us, don't know us at all.
"Their definition of us in many cases is way out of date. One of my objectives is to work hard to reintroduce ourselves to the channel."
How legacy identities have become diluted
However, Blackall concedes that as an older firm with a wide-ranging portfolio, Arcserve has not always been clear in communicating its identity to the channel.
"I think we have been guilty, like a lot of vendors have, of trying to be everything to everyone, and trying and manage too many partners in too many countries. And you just get spread very thin."
Blackall said his solution is to spend this year focusing on the firm's Platinum and Gold partners, and let its value-added distributors "take up the slack" and manage its Silver and Affiliate partners.
Commvault's global channel boss, Carmen Sorice III, is framing the vendor's legacy identity a little differently. He wants the tag to be associated with the word "heritage" instead.
"The world 'legacy' is being used by newer players to make them seem more unique," he said.
"But what is really unique about being new? I think the issue of experience is a very relevant question, especially in the dynamic marketplace we live in.
"We're experienced in not being just a one-point solution that does one thing for one set of customers… And that experience has never been more important and relevant than now.
"Look at it this way,: if you're only going to use solutions by companies that have been around for three or four years, I guess you should not use any IBM technology, you'd better not use AT&T or Verizon networks, or HPE, Cisco or NetApp. They continue to be strong and innovate, and so do we."
The ‘attitude' of start-ups
The obvious difficulty in convincing partners that legacy firms really are "fresh" is the marketing from start-ups such as Rubrik.
Last year, the five-year-old firm made a series of flashy board appointments, in the form of former Cisco CEO John Chambers and Microsoft chairman John W Thompson.
It was enough to earn a riposte from Commvault's brand new CEO, Sanjay Mirchandani, just one day after he was appointed in February.
He told CPI that emerging vendors "offer nothing not already in Commvault's arsenal".
"I don't mean to be glib about it but having a cottage industry of tools that do point solutions is not the answer," he said.
"Being able to have one way to solve a set of problems is the approach we've taken."
Arcserve's channel director Vince Blackall agreed.
"In our industry, there are so many messages from vendors…As far as the start-ups go, they may claim that we are legacy in a bad way…That's just the attitude today," he said.
"But we do not have any weaknesses in our proposition against our competition. We're stronger in some areas, we're probably the same in others. But we are extremely competitive."
Meanwhile, Veeam's global sales boss and co-founder Ratmir Timashev completely rejects the word legacy as being connected to the Switzerland-based giant, despite it being founded in 2006.
Timashev was also far more bullish in his criticism of his younger rivals, claiming they've "alienated the market".
"They would not be successful without Veeam's dominance in the virtual machines space," he told CPI.
"Every 10 years there is a major technological shift. However, unlike all other transformations in the industry, the move to hybrid cloud is based on virtualisation, and that's based on virtual machines, and Veeam is dominating virtual machines.
"Then there's the importance of agility. Veeam, unlike Rubrik and Cohesity, is software defined. It doesn't matter what they say. They can say that they too are software defined, but in reality, they sell you a hardware box. Ninety per cent of their revenue comes from the hardware appliance and 10 per cent from the software.
"So for that reason, they've alienated the technology partners in the industry, such as HP and Cisco."
Should partners be wary of start-up vendor consolidation?
Arcserve's Blackall also suggested that partners should be wary of how long younger, smaller vendors will be around.
"I'm not a crystal ball technology person. I've been in the industry for a very, very long time. From a channel point of view, I see more consolidation. There are so many vendors in the broad church of data protection. I really can't see everybody staying independent," he said.
"And the reality of this marketplace is that not everybody wants to stay independent.
"The truth is, not everybody can be a Veritas or a Commvault."
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