Pure Storage claims it has won over disenfranchised NetApp partners after the rival storage vendor's decision to withdraw direct support across several European countries.
In an email to partners in April, NetApp announced that it will adopt a "partner-led" strategy across 20 EMEA countries, which will mean affected partners will be forced to transact with distributors instead of NetApp directly.
Arrow ECS, Tech Data, ALEF Distribution and Westcon were appointed as NetApp's EMEA distributors to take on partner support. The move came with a round of rumoured layoffs across NetApp's EMEA business.
Rival vendor Pure Storage claims it has actively campaigned to win over displaced NetApp partners across the Nordics and eastern Europe since the move was announced in April.
"Right now, NetApp are pulling out of some countries. And they said they will close offices in eastern Europe and the Nordics and rely on disties to look after the business," he said.
"We love that. Because we have some partners in eastern Europe and the Nordics who are wondering where their support has gone. There were quite a few partners in those countries who have invested in NetApp for the last few years, but have no contact with NetApp any longer.
"They came to us, but we went up to them as well. It's no secret; it's like in a boxing match, once you've identified a weakness or a few openings in an opponent, you hit it. In the end, it's fair game. If you're weak somewhere, like NetApp, then we will try to exploit that weakness."
Dell EMC's European boss, Aongus Hegarty, previously slammed NetApp's decision as a "short-term" view of the European market, claiming it will cost NetApp dearly in the long run.
But Pure Storage has similarly begun to lean more on distributors this year as part of a new go-to-market strategy. In April, around the same time that NetApp withdrew EMEA resources, Pure announced that it would split partners into "Pure-led" and "distributor-led" accounts.
Pure's low-tier "Authorised" partner and most of its mid-tier "Preferred" partners are now served by distributors. This accounts for around 80 per cent of Pure Storage's channel base, with the remaining 20 per cent being a select few Preferred partners and its top-tier "Elite" partners that transact with Pure directly.
Revenues through distributors grew by 50 per cent year on year over the first six months of 2019, Pure Storage claims.
The EMEA channel boss said Pure's ability to cater for its growing partner base, and acquire new partners, will be greatly improved through the distribution strategy.
But Brignone and VP for Pure's international business, James Petter, were at pains to insist that its distribution strategy has no similarities to NetApp's.
"We are very different to how NetApp are doing it, don't get us confused," said Petter.
"There's no intention whatsoever to retract from the market like NetApp have. The intention is to maintain our focus on distribution, maintain our focus on our Elite partners, those that are committed to us; and to get our preferred partners to be managed both through distribution but also directly by us so we can identify the growth partners."
Brignone argued that, contrary to NetApp, Pure Storage is investing in channel support. When he joined the storage vendor 15 months ago, Pure only had 18 channel account managers (CAMs) in EMEA, a figure that now stands at 35. Pure has also hired 10 channel technical managers (CTMs) as a dedicated resource to partners.
The channel support growth is part of a wider headcount push in EMEA. Over the first six months of the year, Pure's headcount grew by 14 per cent at a group level. Its UK team grew its headcount by 66 per cent year on year, while its German team has almost doubled in size.
NetApp has also been a major recruitment source for Pure, claims Brignone, who says that a lot of its new hires in EMEA have come from the rival vendor.
"Ninety-nine per cent of the guys we are hiring are coming from our industry. So I would say in the channel account management team a lot are ex-NetApp, a few Veritas, a few Dell EMC. And they are not young 20-year-olds; they are all veterans who know the business and the partners."
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