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New Cohesity CEO Sanjay Poonen: ‘Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants’

Joseph F. Kovar

‘I have always sort of dreamed of having a technologist who I could partner with. I know certain products and product management and technology. But I also have a lot of experience and skills in go-to-market. I don‘t think this combination exists with anybody else in the data management space, where you’ve got an incredible technologist and a powerful go-to-market combination,’ says Cohesity CEO Sanjay Poonen in reference to Cohesity co-founder Mohit Aron.

Congratulations on taking over as CEO of Cohesity. Why Cohesity?

As I looked at the market and spent the last 12 months looking at a lot of companies, investing in companies, I’m on two boards, I think there‘s a confluence of three factors at play here. One is cloud, the second is security, third is data. I’ve been tracking this industry. Twenty years ago, I worked at Veritas. All the five or six companies that are the so-called leaders in the space, for the last seven or eight years, certainly in my time at VMware, what struck me about Cohesity was a couple of things. One is, the founder is a tech genius. I mean, he built the file system at Google. He was the key architect and CTO at Nutanix. All sort of checks I did on him, and as I got to know him, I saw this guy‘s smart, he’s a person of high integrity, and he’s really passionate about customers. …

Then I looked at the next thing, which was how customers started to perceive this. I knew many of their customers already, but I had a sense that the biggest customers in the world were picking them. So I called a few of them discretely, myself, and did my due diligence. And one global Fortune 100 company told me they had not seen tech like this since VMware 20 years ago, Amazon 10 years ago. So I was starting to sense the validation from many of these large customers Cohesity is winning. And I think many of the large customers are making choices to move off legacy platforms to more modern ones, and I think Cohesity is at the cusp of really winning a lot of those customers to their platform.

And I think the final piece was the partner ecosystem. I really felt like this was an opportunity for the cloud and the on-premises server and storage vendors. I was very impressed by the number of people who invested in this company as a strategic corporate investor. AWS had invested in the company, Cisco, HPE. And I know those strategic partners. I think we can really dial up all of those partners, especially Amazon. Every hyperscaler, every server and storage vendor, every SaaS and on-premises apps company, and then the VARs, these are people I‘ve dealt with for the last 20 years. I know them all very well. So I felt we could use the ecosystem as a force multiplier. And I’ve always said, when you work with ecosystems, it‘s sort of like that Isaac Newton statement: You see clearly because you are ‘standing on the shoulders of giants.’ So my intent is to really cement much stronger relationships with all those partners.

Have you worked at all with Cohesity prior to joining the company as CEO?

Yes, as a partner of VMware. All these folks in this space are probably exhibitors and partners at VMworld. So I got to see all of them. I wouldn‘t say worked exclusively with them. But I would say from my vantage point there, I had the most respect for their tech. Their awareness probably wasn’t as high as some other players. They‘re a smaller company. But I had a lot of respect for their tech. And my own sense was that they had the best tech of anybody when I was at VMware. So I’ve worked with them, not exclusively. We partnered with everybody. … When I talk to global customers, I sensed some of our largest customers were picking them.

 
Joseph F. Kovar

Joseph F. Kovar is a senior editor and reporter for the storage and the non-tech-focused channel beats for CRN. He keeps readers abreast of the latest issues related to such areas as data life-cycle, business continuity and disaster recovery, and data centers, along with related services and software, while highlighting some of the key trends that impact the IT channel overall. He can be reached at jkovar@thechannelcompany.com.

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