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CRN Exclusive: Former Cisco Channel Chief Wendy Bahr Joins Storage Startup Rubrik

Bahr, who is now the first-ever chief commercial officer of Rubrik, joins the data management vendor after her former boss John Chambers made an investment in the company and became its board adviser.

Wendy Bahr, who spend 15 years as Cisco's channel chief, is now the new chief commercial officer at startup cloud storage and data management vendor Rubrik.

The hiring of Bahr as chief commercial officer, is the second major Cisco executive-related move by the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company. John Chambers, Cisco's former CEO, in August invested an undisclosed amount in Rubrik and joined the company as a board adviser.

Bahr in August resigned as channel chief and senior vice president of Cisco's Global Partner Organization.

[Related: CRN Exclusive: Rubrik CEO Bipul Sinha On IPO, Getting Acquired, And John Chambers' Investment]

Bahr's move to Rubrik not only gives the vendor a top-notch channel-focused executive, it also gives the vendor the opportunity to expand its presence in the Cisco channel community, said Kent MacDonald, senior vice president of strategic alliances at Long View Systems, a Calgary, Alberta-based solution provider and longtime Cisco channel partner.

MacDonald told CRN that his company has recently signed up with Rubrik. "Think of the junior high school dance," he said. "We looked at each other across the gym."

MacDonald said he appreciated Rubrik's innovation and the fact that Chambers made an investment in the vendor, and feels the hiring of Bahr is another important step.

"Wendy has a lot of friends and respect in the channel community," he said. "Her hire by Rubrik creates a welcoming environment for current Cisco partners who have not met Rubrik before to now sit down with Wendy."

Technological innovation is important, but people are equally important, MacDonald said.

"When you have people you trust in key roles, it creates a trusted environment for partners," he said. "Rubrik has made a great choice in picking a great leader for its channel team. This gives Rubrik a great tailwind."

Bahr told CRN that her 18 years at Cisco was fabulous, but that she felt the need to try something different, and saw that in the $48-billion data management business. "If you can disrupt that kind of business in a positive way, it's a good thing," she said.

Customers are being swamped with a deluge of data, and Rubrik has created a new class of technology to help with the problem, Bahr said.

"I'm really excited to make a big impact," she said. "I have an opportunity to help Rubrik scale and build a world-class business. This is something I haven't done yet in my career."

The role of chief commercial officer is a new one for Rubrik. In that role, Bahr will be working with solution providers, MSPs, global systems integrators, hardware and software alliances, inside sales, and professional services, she said.

When it comes to professional services, Rubrik has had a team working with partners on bringing them the necessary experience and helping with initial deployments, Bahr said.

"But we want to enable the channel to do this to increase partners' profitability," she said. "We are in the early days. Some of our MSPs and strategic integrators are already going down that path. We've also recently launched our ne partner program, and introduced the Rubrik Academy for help with sales and engineering training."

Bahr said she is also looking forward to expanding Rubrik's relationships with technology alliance partners including Lenovo, Nutanix, Pure Storage, and VMware.

"Cisco's not in the alliance yet," she said. "But we hope they join. Rubrik is moving from an appliance model to a subscription software model. We're focused on software. So that means a lot of opportunities to work with our alliance partners and their channel partners."

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