Nutanix’s global channel chief has two major goals in 2021: drive more predictable services sales for partners and enable the channel to move to Everything as a Service as quickly as possible.
“Now more than ever, the channel really needs to move faster to Everything as a Service,” Christian Alvarez, Nutanix’s worldwide channel leader, told CRN USA. “And to adapt really quickly to subscription. Why? Customers are asking for this.”
Alvarez said the move to subscription- and consumption-based buying has changed the traditional channel-vendor relationship. “The economic advantages for Everything as a Service is enormous. It’s all about life-cycle management and creating that intimacy and stickiness for a continuous engagement,” he said.
In an interview with CRN USA, Alvarez talks about Nutanix’s edge over VMware, if Nutanix’s new CEO, Rajiv Ramaswami, is a channel-friendly leader and why 2021 is the year Everything as a Service will take off.
From a channel standpoint, what are Nutanix’s biggest investment areas in 2021?
In 2021, there are two things we’re very focused on. One is services. We see services as key to the subscription economy. Secondly, one of our top priorities and objectives is around autonomy—providing more predictability and self-service for our channel partners so they can drive more deal velocity and customer success. Those are the two big key items we’re focused on this year.
In today’s subscription- and consumption-based economy, now more than ever the channel really needs to move faster to Everything as a Service. And to adapt really quickly to subscription. Why? Customers are asking for this. The move to subscription has changed the traditional channel-vendor relationship. With the enterprise and now the classroom moving to the home, the channel really needs to focus on bringing the cloud experience to customers so they can move their applications and their databases and workloads into a multi-cloud environment.
What differentiates Nutanix’s as-a-service strategy compared with VMware’s?
The fact that our solutions are simple to deploy. They’ve proven themselves time and time again for lower total cost of ownership, and to operate and maintain. The fact that partners are able to package our solutions—whether it’s as a service, as a managed service, being able to bolt on other solutions as part of the overall stack—partners and customers are driving more away from the traditional legacy three-tiered architecture. So the multi-cloud approach with Nutanix and with partners like HPE, Lenovo, as well as with ISV companies like Veeam, Haiku and Citrix—a lot of them have native integrations with our products and solutions. It’s a game-changer. It’s a great way for our partners to have great experiences with their customers.
If you look at COVID, VDI is top of mind. You have customers working from anywhere. They need quick, reliable, secure access to their infrastructure, and we saw some great customer outcomes adopting our VDI solution, which was architected and deployed within weeks by our partners. It helped our partners really add value and sell their services. I would say that is our differentiator from everyone else in our peer group.
Why is it so important for Nutanix partners to shift to selling as a service this year?
The need to move applications closer to the end users that are now working from anywhere is absolutely top of mind for IT companies and CTOs. With partners providing Everything as a Service and embracing the shift to subscription, it will allow their customers to focus all of their efforts on their core business.
We’re all about making infrastructure invisible [MJH1] and making our partners more visible. Because at the end of the day, it’s about customer outcomes and letting them run their business more efficiently. That’s why services are important.
Most of channel partners’ revenue is coming from services. Subscription is driving a lot of that. We partnered with great companies like HPE with GreenLake, also you look at what Lenovo is doing with their as-a-service solutions, it’s an incredible opportunity for our partners to really leverage. The economic advantages for Everything as a Service is enormous. It’s all about life-cycle management and creating that intimacy and stickiness for a continuous engagement. That’s why we’re very focused on our partners driving services in the subscription economy of today.
You said Nutanix is striving to make partners more visible. What’s the strategy for 2021?
It’s about enablement. The Elevate Partner Program that we’re really proud of, and that we launched six months ago, transformed our partner program with three key points in mind: profitability, predictability and simplicity for partners.
We’ve shifted away from the traditional channel tiering of Gold, Platinum, Bronze, and we went to 100 percent competencies. So we put more value in the partners’ ability to do services, day-one installations, post-sales support—and all of that is being driven around curriculums and training modules so our partners can go deeper and wider with those competencies and skill sets to give customers and partners the best outcome and experience.
Is new CEO Rajiv Ramaswami going to be a channel-friendly leader?
I believe we have the best CEO to help us really maneuver our way through these waters and where we’re going as a company. I couldn’t be prouder of what the board and our executive leadership did in their search. They found the best person for the job. Rajiv is committed to the channel. He’s absolutely committed to our future as a company, our products, our channel and I couldn’t be happier with having him at the helm leading the company.
Is 2021 the year when most companies officially shift to as a service for IT spending?
2021 is going to be the year for as a service to take off because of the economic advantages, the flexibility, helping customers with pivoting away from Capex to more Opex and then you introduce consumption—absolutely 2021. It’s no longer a fad or something just nice to have. People now understand how to not depreciate these assets that are more under pay-as-you-go, consumption-based —there’s a lot of clarity around that now. In the last couple of years, the adoption that we’ve seen is that customers are embracing it.
I would also say 2021 is the year of the channel, specifically to Nutanix. We embarked on a new partner program: simplicity and predictability for our partners. Now, they’re really hitching their wagon to Nutanix. They love our products. They love our solutions. It just works. They love the fact that we’re innovating. This year, we’re convinced that post-COVID and once we go back to whatever normal is, customers are going to go back to spending. They’re going to go to back to some level of normal and not being constrained on budgets. This is going to be a great year for partners.