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Wasabi On ‘Weaponizing’ Partners To Defeat AWS, Google and Azure

Mark Haranas

‘We’re going to be weaponizing our partners to win business back from AWS and Google and Azure, and help partners take their customers into the future in a way that they don’t lose control of their customer,’ says Jennifer Kula, vice president of Alliances and Channels at Wasabi.

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Wasabi Enabling Partners To ‘Win Business Back’ From Public Cloud Providers

Wasabi Technologies says it’s giving partners new tools and incentives to win against public cloud storage providers AWS, Google and Azure through the launch of its first-ever partner program: Wasabi Partner Network.

“We’re going to be weaponizing our partners to win business back from AWS and Google and Azure, and help partners take their customers into the future in a way that they don’t lose control of their customer,” said Jennifer Kula, vice president of Alliances and Channels at Wasabi in an interview with CRN.

The Boston-based storage startup was founded in 2015 by CEO David Friend and CTO Jeff Flowers, who previously co-founded Carbonite. Wasabi says it provides enterprise class cloud storage for one-fifth the price of public cloud vendors and is up to six-times faster with no hidden fee for data egress or API request. Partners can white label and markup Wasabi’s solution for additional margins without the startup even knowing who the customer is.

CRN talks to Kula and Laurie Mitchell, senior director of partner marketing, about Wasabi’s channel strategy, new partner program and how the startup plans to disrupt the storage market.

What does your new Wasabi Partner Network provide channel partners with?

Kula: We’re going to be weaponizing our partners to win business back from AWS and Google and Azure, and help partners take their customers into the future in a way that they don’t lose control of their customer. That’s a big thing because Amazon, Google and Azure – Microsoft is better at it because of their channel focus – but Amazon and Google are not good at it. Amazon and Google have a channel, but they really want to capture the customer and own the customer. Wasabi doesn’t want to own the customer. We want to enable partners to bring value to their customer. Partners retain that value-added advisory relationship with us. We’re not looking to suck partners in and then offer their customers 100 other things an MSP could be offering, but [that’s what] Amazon or Microsoft or Google are offering to them. There’s a real strategy there.

Talk about that partner relationship Wasabi is looking to create compared to those public cloud providers?

Kula: It’s transparent when you think about it, but it’s not transparent until a partner goes, ‘Well Amazon offers all the services that I’m also trying to offer. They have data backup and recovery of their own.’ So what happens to that MSP if their customer goes to Amazon? Now all you have to do is click and sign up for all of [Amazon] services. Amazon views that to be their customer. They will sell them things that are competing against the partner – we don’t do that. We increase the value of that partner relationship with the customer instead of decreasing it.

Why should a partner pick Wasabi versus other cloud storage vendors?

Mitchell: Partners make better margins. They can even markup our storage because it’s contained in a bundle offering. So they can markup our storage to get additional margin and they’ll also get margin incentives from the new partner program that ends up being way more profitable for them and makes it incredibly competitive from a market offering to combine us with any of these technology partner vendors. … We’re aligning our more than 200 technology partners with the channel. We are now a certified with Veeam. We’re going to be one of their public cloud partners. We’ll be signing with Rubrik as well. We look at what are the best of breed vendors that are driving the market in those application spaces and we’re aligning to them with a joint value proposition that is almost the same in every case.

Break down the specifics for Wasabi’s volume-based incentives?

Mitchell: So starting off, you have to have some minimum amount of volume to get the first tier of discount, which will be 100-terabytles. From there, the next level is 5-petabytes of data and you’ll get the next tier of discounts. We have a pay-as-you-go model. So every month you’re going to get a bill for what you actually stored with Wasabi. … They get that incentive for as long as that data in is there. They get paid that monthly recurring revenue every month. If a partner puts 100-terabytes in every month – so then the next month it’s 200-terabytes, next month it’s 300 terabytes – the discount you get is cumulative. So you get paid in perpetuity for as long as that data remains in there and as it is growing, you get more monthly recurring revenue as a partner.

What does a solution provider need to do to become a Wasabi channel partner?

Mitchell: They can sign up today and get up and running super-fast. We purposely made the program to be as simple as possible, so a partner can get up and running almost immediately. There’s no minimum commitments. There’s no big hurdles you have to leap. There’s no, ‘You have to have ‘X’ number of people certified.’ There’s no program fees. It’s super simple. You sign a simple click-through agreement. You agree that you’re going to offer Wasabi as part of your offering. We want you to do Tier-1 support and off you go. We sign you up immediately from the portal and you’ll get access to the program.

So what’s the average time it takes for partner to join Wasabi Partner Network and get up and running?

Mitchell: They can do it in an hour. So immediate value. It’s as fast as they can come on board, set it up and make it part of their offer.

What’s something unique about the Wasabi Partner Network?

Kula: We have a partner API. What that means is we actually have built an API that can integrate into the partners own provisioning and billing system. So if they currently provision from their own platform and bill through that, we have an API that they can provision from their system that tells then, ‘Okay, we’re provisioning a new customer or bucket.’ With that API, all the usage gets track so they can pull from it to do all of their billing back to their customer. It makes it really easy from an administrative perspective as well. … We’re also planning to put some strategic programs for our partners out there to help with changing the conversation. So we’re going to provide them with talk tracks for various business use cases so they can go in with confidence and have all the information they need. We’re not just saying, ‘Here’s our product.’ We’re going to tell them, ‘Here’s why it matters in this circumstance. Here’s how you can show your customer why this is the way to go.’

How easy is it to get trained and certified on Wasabi?

Mitchell: Our value proposition is super simple. When you tell the story, it’s almost too obvious that people are like, ‘Is this too good to be true?’ From a sales perspective, it’s going to be super easy. We had a partner in yesterday that put up a pricing calculator: for their own product, they had a number in there for storage. We said, ‘Okay put in the price for Wasabi.’ Their ROI without Wasabi was really good, but when they put in Wasabi they were blown away. The sales aspect is obvious. For us, it’s about getting the word out and the awareness built.

We have simple, self-service, online training. It’s free. There’s no complicated certifications. There’s a sales track and a technical track. It’s all in the portal ready to go. I’ve worked at other companies where the product and the value proposition is so technical and such a difficult sale that it required teams of sales engineers to get trained and certified and all of that. This is the opposite of that. This is an almost no-brainer. Come in, learn about our product. It’s simple to price and simple to sell.

How can partners make more money and win more deals with Wasabi?

Mitchell: We already have disruptive pricing. It’s already lower than everybody else’s. Then on top of that, partners are now going to get the volume incentives and they’re going to get cumulative growth. We bundled offers with more than 200 technology providers, so partners don’t need to invest in system integrators. Wasabi is part of the bundle. When customers are purchasing a data backup and recovery service or an archiving service, especially at the enterprise level, they want to know what it costs per terabyte. For example, a data backup and recovery service that would use Veeam plus storage or Rubrik plus storage, the average price is $150 to $300 per terabyte to save that information, back it up and do the data management on it – that’s expensive. When you combine Veeam plus Wasabi storage or Rubrik plus Wasabi storage, what you end up doing is greatly lowering the cost of the portion of our solution which is the storage.

Mark Haranas

Mark Haranas is an assistant news editor and longtime journalist now covering cloud, multicloud, software, SaaS and channel partners at CRN. He speaks with world-renown CEOs and IT experts as well as covering breaking news and live events while also managing several CRN reporters. He can be reached at mharanas@thechannelcompany.com.

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