NetApp Loses North American Channel Sales VP To SAP

Regina Kunkle

NetApp's Americas channel chief is the latest in a string of high-profile executives who have recently left the company.

Regina Kunkle, who until this month served as NetApp's vice president of North American channel sales, has left NetApp to join SAP as that company's new vice president of state and local/higher education (SLED).

Her new position takes her into a familiar role. Before she started her channel sales role, she focused on SLED sales at NetApp.

[Related: NetApp Ousts Georgens, Names Kurian New CEO]

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Taking over for Kunkle at NetApp is Scott Strubel, a five-year NetApp veteran who now carries the title of vice president of North American channel sales. Strubel reports to Bill Lipsin, NetApp's vice president of worldwide channel sales.

Lipsin himself is fairly new at NetApp, having joined the company early May after a stint as head of channels at San Jose, Calif.-based Brocade.

A NetApp spokesperson told CRN that there was nothing unusual in Kunkle's departure from the company.

The company also emailed a statement to CRN that read, "With top new talent such as Scott Strubel, vice president, Americas Channel Sales and Bill Lipsin, vice president, Worldwide Channel Sales, NetApp remains committed to delivering a world-class channel experience and driving profitable growth for NetApp and its channel partners."

Partners should not read between the lines of Kunkle's departure, said John Woodall, vice president of engineering at Integrated Archive Systems (IAS), a Palo Alto, Calif.-based solution provider and longtime NetApp channel partner.

"SLED is what she did before," Woodall told CRN. "It's a more natural fit for her, her area of expertise."

Lipsin has done a good job with NetApp's channel partners since he joined in May, Woodall said.

New interim CEO George Kurian

"Bill Lipsin is a breath of fresh air," Woodall said. "He has great energy. He really listens. You don't always see that when someone new comes in. They may look like they're listening, but you see their wheels turning elsewhere. Lipsin, however, takes good notes in meetings, and takes action on them."

Kunkle's departure is the latest in a string of executive changes at NetApp, and comes after NetApp unveiled plans to lay off about 500 employees in response to lower-than-expected fiscal fourth-quarter 2015 earnings and revenue.

The highest-profile NetApp departure was that of CEO Tom Georgens, who in June was let go by the NetApp board. Georgens was replaced on an interim basis by George Kurian, the company's former executive vice president of product operations.

NetApp in March also lost its flash storage guru as Brian Pawlowski, the senior vice president and technical staff member at NetApp known there as "beepee," left in March to join rival all-flash storage vendor Pure Storage, Mountain View, Calif..

NetApp can be expected to go through a transition in terms of personnel changes given the recent financial report and the new CEO, Woodall said.

"NetApp is changing, and will continue to change," he said. "It may not be a bad thing. It raises eyebrows. But I'm not sure I'd read anything into it. Our NetApp business is very healthy. With the company's recent new solutions, I see an opportunity to grow our NetApp business."