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NetApp Appoints New Software-Focused CMO

Joseph F. Kovar

‘The role of a CMO is to learn to be responsive. I believe partners are at the forefront of change. As CMO, I can say what we’re doing is not around centralization. The message is moving to the edge,’ says new NetApp CMO Gabrielle ‘Gabie’ Boko.

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NetApp Tuesday unveiled the appointment of a new CMO with strong software credentials as it continues to transform itself into a software-led, cloud-led company.

Gabrielle “Gabie” Boko, who joined NetApp about one year ago as senior vice president of portfolio marketing, spent the six previous six years at Hewlett Packard Enterprise where she moved from global vice president of software marketing to global vice president of digital. She also served as CMO at both Sage and at OutlookSoft, which was acquired by SAP in 2007 .

Most of Boko’s career has been focused on software, a fact she said gives her a great background to take over marketing at a company many still perceive as a storage hardware vendor.

[Related: NetApp CEO: Journey To Cloud Complete, Focus On Evolved Cloud]

“When you think of marketing, it’s important to figure out what customers want,” she told CRN. “I want to be a customer-centric marketer. In this market, you have to focus and be committed to change. For us, that means a focus on storage, including the security and accessibility of data. And a focus on native cloud storage on all public clouds is an important part of our strategy.”

NetApp’s channel partners are an important part of how NetApp brings its message about storage and the cloud to customers, Boko said.

“The role of a CMO is to learn to be responsive,” she said. “I believe partners are at the forefront of change. As CMO, I can say what we’re doing is not around centralization. The message is moving to the edge. We need partners to grow. I will tell partners we want to be shoulder to shoulder with them. Same with our cloud partners. Partners don’t want to see walled gardens.”

Boko is taking over as CMO from James Whitemore, an eight-year veteran of NetApp and before that SolidFire, which was acquired by NetApp in 2016 . Whitemore, who has served as NetApp CMO for the company since late 2019, is leaving the company, NetApp told CRN in a statement.

“NetApp’s former CMO, James Whitemore has left the company to pursue outside opportunities and interests. NetApp is grateful for the five years James dedicated to the organization—including three as CMO,” NetApp told CRN via email.

NetApp has been evolving to become a true software company with numerous software developer acquisitions and other significant moves such as bringing its OnTap technology from an on-premises focus to the cloud, said John Woodall, vice president, solution architecture West at General Datatech, a Dallas-based solution provider and longtime NetApp channel partner.

“NetApp’s leadership has also been evolving with a lot more experience in software,” Woodall told CRN. “And looking at Gabie’s profile, her hire fits how NetApp describes itself in the market. It has 30-plus years in storage, but in the last eight years it has embraced software and as-a-service as key to its growth.”

Building a message around that requires a big shift, Woodall said.

“We’re seeing two voices that need to present as one to provide a point of view to a market that encompasses both the data center and the cloud in a way that works,” he said. “NetApp needs to make people think cloud as their first and second thoughts when they think NetApp.”

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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