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Cohesity's New Channel Chief Is NetApp's Old Channel Chief Bill Lipsin

Lipsin took the channel reins of a company that he says is channel-driven and is on the way to profitability after Todd Palmer, who reported to Lipsin at NetApp in the past, left to take over channels at Hitachi Vantara.

Data management and data protection technology developer Cohesity on Tuesday unveiled the hiring of storage channel veteran Bill Lipsin as its new channel chief.

Lipsin, who has around 25 years of enterprise channel sales and marketing experience, most recently as vice president of worldwide channels at NetApp, is now the vice president of global channel sales at San Jose, Calif.-based Cohesity.

He is taking over for Todd Palmer who in May left Cohesity and is now the senior vice president of worldwide strategic partners and alliances at Hitachi Vantara. Palmer previously reported to Lipsin while at NetApp, Lipsin told CRN.

[Related: Commvault's New Channel Strategy: ‘Partner-Led’ Featuring New Rebates]

Lipsin reports to Rob Salmon, Cohesity president and chief operating officer. Salmon joined Cohesity in 2017 after a 22-year run at NetApp culminating in his role as president of that company.

For Lipsin, Cohesity represents an opportunity to come into a storage vendor entering a new phased in its growth.

"The growth we're seeing and the positioning of the product needs a different level of management," he said. "Cohesity has been exceeding its targets and growing quickly. So it is now building a world-class team. If you look at the new mix of management skills and background, you see a mix of people from NetApp, Nutanix, Veritas, Palo Alto Networks, Google, and Cisco."

Cohesity, which has a 100-percent channel-focused sales model, is growing as clients clamor for better ways to manage their data, Lipsin said.

"Cohesity is not a storage company," he said. "Cohesity is all about data management. We're a software company looking at how to manage the 80 percent of data that is not easy to manage."

Cohesity has plans to enhance its channel program, Lipsin said.

"But it's not because I'm coming in, but we've seen growth for certain partners who need new ways to grow," he said. "We're still trying to finalize our new program now."

Partners have seen much success working with Cohesity, Lipsin said. Last year, about 70 percent of active partners doubled their Cohesity revenue, while 50 percent of active partners tripled it, he said.

"It's so refreshing to see not just a channel-friendly or a channel-first company, but a channel-driven company," he said.

While Cohesity is not a profitable company yet, it is on the path towards profitability, Lipsin said.

"When you have investors like Morgan Stanley, Softbank, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Cisco, and Google, you have a very solid foundation," he said. "I made sure we are fiscally responsible before I joined."

Cohesity did well bringing Lipsin aboard, said John Woodall, vice president of engineering at Integrated Archive Systems (IAS), a Palo Alto, Calif.-based solution provider and channel partner to both Cohesity and NetApp.

"I like Bill," Woodall told CRN. "He's a good guy. He did a lot of work for the channel when he was at NetApp. He helped update the roles for how NetApp works with the channel."

Woodall said he remembers how well Lipsin interacted with the channel in general at NetApp.

"He was very positive, ad very pragmatic," he said. "He would solve any issues, be the adult in the room, and more. "He was a voice of reason."

Lipsin was also a good friend of the channel while at NetApp, Woodall said.

"This is a great hire for Cohesity," he said. "I believe he knows how to build a strong channel organization. A lot of people in the channel don't work well with direct sales teams. He could work with both sides to make the channel effective.

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