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NetApp Channel Chief Jim Elder: Big Changes, Opportunities Coming For Partners

Jim Elder tells CRN in a wide-ranging conversation about his priorities for NetApp in 2020, how the company is reorganizing its channels, and how it plans to compete against Dell EMC's new PowerStore storage line.

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NetApp is reorganizing its sales from a focus on enterprise vs. commercial to a regional focus. How will that work?

Just to be clear, we're still driving a segmented model. We have enterprise and commercial sales teams. We're changing the way those teams are led and aligned. Where last year we had a more delineated structure between enterprise and commercial at a national level, now that will be done at more of what we're calling areas. We're dividing the U.S. into north, south, and west areas. Each of those areas will be led by a sales vice president. David Sznewajs is the leader that's been named for the north area. David's been with NetApp for a number of years. On the west, that'll be Mike Bush. I believe he's a 20-year veteran of NetApp. And for the south, it's David Young. David, I believe, is the newest of the three. He's been with us I think for a little over a year.

Benny Cifelli will continue to be our general manager for Canada. And through this structure, I'm running the America's partner organization, including all of the Americas, North America, South America. But I also become the general manager for the Latin America businesses, running our sales teams for Latin America.

How will those new teams work?

They will handle the end customer-facing sales teams, and then the partner organizations will be reporting to me. But we have aligned very tightly with those three areas in my organization, so we'll have two major partner organizations under me. One will handle our national partners, our big national partners that have meaningful business with us in multiple areas, and I'll have a regional partner organization that will be exactly aligned with that north-south-west model. The leaders of each of those partner areas--again, north, south, and west--will report to me but dotted line and working very closely and being perfectly aligned with the area VPs. The channel reports into a centralized function under me, but it's totally aligned with the selling motion of our sales team.

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