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CRN Exclusive: New NetApp Channel VP Promises Increased Partner Services Opportunities From Shift To Flash, Cloud Storage

Jeff McCullough said he was jealous of NetApp's channel business back when he was responsible for sales of HPE's storage solutions.

Storage vendor NetApp has hired a new channel executive who is bringing the company a wealth of channel experience from rivals Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Quest Software.

Jeff McCullough, who started a couple weeks ago as the new vice president of NetApp's Americas partner sales organization, said that he is coming to NetApp at a time when its channel program is performing like the program he grew jealous of during his time at HPE.

McCullough takes over for Scott Strubel who in March retired from NetApp.

[Related: NetApp Finally Enters Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Market With Focus On Enterprise-Grade All-Flash Capabilities]

McCullough told CRN that between 2008 and 2012, when he was senior director of HP Americas storage business unit, NetApp was a formidable competitor.

"At HPE, I looked enviously at NetApp's channel program," he said. "It talked to HPE partners to ask how to increase our business in the channel. They told me to look at NetApp's channel program. At the time, NetApp led the market in channel profitability and programs."

McCullough spent a total of 22 years with Compaq, Hewlett-Packard and HPE, and left HPE in 2016 as vice president of channel strategy and SMB sales. He then spent a year as vice president of channel sales and alliances at Quest Software before joining NetApp.

McCullough's experience at HPE is uniquely applicable to working with NetApp's channels, said Glenn Dekhayser, national data management practice lead at Red8, a Costa Mesa, Calif.-based solution provider and NetApp channel partner.

"I like where NetApp is going with him," Dekhayser told CRN. "He was an SE (systems engineer) in the past. At HPE, he understood solution sales and didn't just sell the product. He was in the trenches with technical sales."

McCullough has a strong technical sales background which fits well with NetApp, Dekhayser said.

"NetApp sells technical solutions to technical people," he said. "In order to be successful with NetApp, you need some tech cred. If you don't get it, life will be difficult. His job at NetApp is to get people moving. If you can't speak from your heart about the technology and solutions, you're much more likely to fail."


NetApp partners are not necessarily looking for bigger discounts, Dekhayser said. "They want more education and programs," he said. "NetApp customers don't buy on price. They want business solutions."

McCullough, who reports to Thomas Stanley, senior vice president and general manager for the Americas at NetApp, said he has no plans to make big changes to NetApp's channel programs.

"We like to use the word 'transformation," he said. "As we transform NetApp from a technology standpoint, we need to transform the channel as well. NetApp is focused on flash storage, converged infrastructure, hyper-converged infrastructure, and software components. What I'm most interested in doing is simplifying our message to our channels."

Those new initiatives are also NetApp's fastest-growing market segments, and the company wants to help partners build service and recurring revenue opportunities around them, McCullough said.

"Not many vendors offer a full range of services to their partners," he said. "For NetApp partners, every dollar they less in hardware leads to seven dollars in services. We're not looking for a wholesale change. It's just a move to shift to the fastest growing parts of the market such as flash storage, and then wrapping related services around the cloud."

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