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Juniper Channel Leader Heads To Nutanix To Drive ‘Partner Simplicity’

“What Christian brings is experience from a company that had to fight against an entrenched leader, Cisco, and was successful – that’s exactly what Nutanix needs right now,” said Tim Joyce, president and CEO of Nutanix partner Roundstone Solutions.

Juniper Networks’ channel chief Christian Alvarez has left the networking company to lead hyper-converged infrastructure pioneer Nutanix with will be “relentlessly focused on partner simplicity.”

Alvarez was previously Worldwide Head of Channels and Distribution at Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Juniper Networks where he was responsible for over 14,000 partners and 50 distributors along with the management of the company’s worldwide channel and distribution strategy.

“What Christian brings is experience from a company that had to fight against an entrenched leader, Cisco, and was successful – that’s exactly what Nutanix needs right now,” said Tim Joyce, president and CEO of Roundstone Solutions, an Orinda, Calif.-based Nutanix partner. “Because they’re fighting against entrenched legacy vendors. So having a guy with his pedigree is really the correct move at this point in their development. I’m looking forward to him improving Nutanix’s channel strategy.”

[Related: Nutanix’s Dheeraj Pandey On Google ‘Speculation’ And ‘Unprecedented’ Transformation]

Alvarez will lead Nutanix’s Americas channel team as vice president, Americas Channel. He has more than 26 years of executive sales and channel management positions for the likes of Avaya, Connexion Technologies, Cyan and Juniper.

“I’ve spent the majority of my career in OEM’s on the hardware side, and it’s all about software now,” said Alvarez, in an interview with CRN. “The journey that [Nutanix has] been on and their ability to pivot toward 100 percent software as a cloud-based company – that intrigued me personally. That’s where my mind and my heart is at right now.”

Alvarez said he plans to shake-up some of Nutanix’s channel strategies including how it interacts with partners.

“Where we’ve fallen short, and part of change is being honest with ourselves, is around doing a better job listening to our partners. Even more importantly, once we get that feedback, what do we do about it?” said Alvarez. “So Nutanix is absolutely committed to helping our partners be more profitable in leading with Nutanix and continuing to sell all of our solutions. I’m going to be relentlessly focused on partner simplicity. I’m obsessed with simplicity. There’s certain elements of our partner program that I want to take back to the basics.”

One big channel investment area will be around the distribution market. “We need to a have better, more comprehensive distribution strategy,” he said. “I can see that we’re just starting to scratch the surface in terms of being more visible in this area. The power of distribution is enormous.”

Roundstone’s Joyce has been partners with Nutanix for about five years. He says although there’s no glaring issues with the company’s channel strategy, Alvarez cloud help make some improvements.

“The channel program hasn’t been a negative, but it hasn’t been a real driver for us either. So to hear that there’s is focus and emphasis to make it a driver for business excites me,” said Joyce, who has more than 35 years’ experience in the IT industry. “A number of years ago, I bet a lot on Nutanix. I love the platform. It’s the best platform I’ve seen in my whole career. It’s been a good move for us, but it would be great to have even more help because then we could help Nutanix more.”

Last month, Nutanix report fourth fiscal quarter 2019 revenue of $300 million, down 1 percent year over year. The drop-in revenue reflected the company’s reduction in pass-through hardware sales from $36 million in fourth quarter 2018 to $13 million this year, along with revenue compression due to the ongoing transition to software and subscription. Software and support revenue for the quarter reached $287 million, up 7 percent year over year.

For Nutanix’s full fiscal year 2019, which ended July 31, the company generated $1.24 billion in total revenue, up less than 1 percent year over year. Again, the flat sales growth reflected Nutanix’s planned hardware sales drop in fiscal year 2019 of $105 million versus last year’s $257 million.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company has spent the last two years transforming itself from a hyper-converged appliance company into a software and subscription vendor.

“Nutanix is going through it’s own digital transformation going from appliances to software to subscription – it is just unprecedented in the history of IT,” said Nutanix CEO Dheeraj Pandey in an recent interview with CRN. “We’re doing all of this because if we didn’t digitally transform ourselves, there’s no way we could transform our customers digitally as well.”

Alvarez said he plans to keep Nutanix as a partner-centric vendor with a revamped strategy to drive profitability and better sales enablement.

“We have to continue to enable partners and make our portfolio easy to procure and resell. It’s in our DNA to continue being a partner-centric company,” said Alvarez. “That’s our primary route to market and we have no intentions on changing that.”

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