NetApp Channel Vets Howard, Danza Departing In Latest Round Of Layoffs

Two NetApp channel veterans will be leaving the company in its planned layoff of 600 employees, CRN has learned.

Peter Howard, vice president of global channel sales at NetApp and an eight-year company veteran, and Al Danza, an east coast regional channel sales director and 12-year NetApp veteran, are both leaving, sources familiar with the matter told CRN.

[Related: NetApp's Cloud Strategy: The Tech Is There, Now To Put It All Together]

NetApp didn't respond to a request for comment on Howard's or Danza's status.

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Jed Ayres, chief marketing officer at MCPc, Cleveland, Ohio-based solution provider and NetApp channel partner, called Howard one of the true unsung heroes of the channel.

"When I first met him, he had created FastPath, a program at NetApp that worked with 30 large solution providers who had no NetApp revenue," Ayres said. "NetApp used FastPath to invest in those partners even though they had zero NetApp revenue. They invested ahead of revenue, turning it into an incubator program."

Ayres told CRN he experienced FastPath twice at two different solution providers.

"FastPath, with a handshake and two pieces of paper, led to a 12-month cycle where NetApp invested about $500,000 in the partner, and offered marketing and technology resources plus dedicated channel people to ensure their success. In both cases, we went north of $10 million in NetApp business within one year."

Howard was also instrumental in the success of the FlexPod converged infrastructure solution with Cisco, Ayres said.

"He was the guy who brought FlexPod into the channel with Cisco," he said. "He was out there with his "S.W.A.T." team talking about FlexPod even before anyone knew what it was. He did a tremendous job as you can see with the success of FlexPod."

One solution provider, who asked to remain anonymous, told CRN the NetApp layoffs aren’t likely to have a big impact on the channel. "NetApp has a lot of people in the channel organization," the solution provider said. "Does it need all of them? There's a lot of fat in the middle."

NEXT: Opportunities For NetApp And Its Partners

The layoffs may be an opportunity for NetApp to streamline its channel operations, the solution provider said. "Over the last few years, I've seen internal communications not executed well," the solution provider said. "There seems to be a lot of overlap."

Thomas Stanley, NetApp's senior vice president of global alliances and channel sales, told CRN earlier this week that NetApp's top executives had seen areas where the company needed to drive out costs and increase efficiency in terms of its go-to-market strategy.

"Not only do we want to ensure we have a strong channel infrastructure, but also ensure our partners know we will engage with them," Stanley said.

NetApp is investing in such areas as cloud infrastructure but it's also investing in the channel, Stanley said.

"We want to build a company that doesn't think it needs a certain amount of business go through the channel, but which instead knows how customers consume technology," he said. "There are very few cases where customers make only a storage decision. They look at VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure), servers, all the different parts of a solution. That's how they consume storage. I think the future is extraordinarily bright for our channel partners."

NetApp is also expanding its portfolio with flash storage and other technologies that let channel partners expand their business while increasing NetApp's reach into the channel, he said.

"Our partners can sell our infrastructure," he said. "But that doesn't differentiate them as much as what they bring around our infrastructure."

Steve Burke contributed to this article.