Southern Cross CEO Mike Sakalas joins Pure Storage

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Southern Cross CEO Mike Sakalas joins Pure Storage
Mike Sakalas

Mike Sakalas is departing Southern Cross Computer Systems (SCCS) to take up the role of country manager for Pure Storage.

He leaves SCCS next Friday to join the flash vendor, where he replaces Nigel Peach, who has been appointed as Pure Storage's director of alliances and systems integrators for APJ.

Sakalas has been with Melbourne-headquartered reseller SCCS since 2012, first as general manager and then as chief executive since 2013.

The move to Pure Storage marks a return to vendor-land; Sakalas' CV includes stints at storage heavyweights EMC and NetApp.

Sakalas said that as an American native, he was drawn to the career path of a fast-growing US vendor. "I have been almost three years at Southern Cross; it is at a really good point [and] I have taken it where I can. From a career perspective, going back to a multinational global with an opportunity for worldwide experience was too good an opportunity to pass up."

Pure Storage does 100 percent of its sales via the channel, said Sakalas. "Growing that channel is extremely exciting."

SCCS executive chairman Mark Kalmus told CRN that Sakalas had resigned "with our blessings".

"He has done well for us. He spent a good deal of time with us during a difficult time and in a difficult industry," said Kalmus. "They [Pure Storage] are a growing company with a transformational, disruptive technology and I think he is joining a company like that at a good time."

Recent years have brought challenges for SCCS, a veteran of the Australian channel that was founded in 1981 and now has revenues of more than $70 million, with offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Kalmus recently opened up to CRN about " the difficult year we had to have" in 2013-14, when a sharp downward spike in product sales led to SCCS breaching covenants with financier Commonwealth Bank.

While the company's transformation from reseller to service provider has been difficult, Kalmus said the strategy has been bearing fruit, with a return to profit in the current financial year.

He stressed that Sakalas' departure had nothing to do with these financial issues. "In fact, we are probably having our best year for three years."

Changes at Pure

Nigel Peach, who was Pure Storage's first first ANZ employee when the company opened here in late 2013, will be responsible for "driving and developing Pure’s relationships with strategic alliance partners, systems integrators, service providers and outsourcers across the region".

Michael Alp, vice president, APJ for Pure Storage, said: "Mike has a blue-ribbon career history in enterprise IT, making him a standout to take on the role Nigel is leaving. Mike has a detailed understanding of our industry and an enviable track record in growing a business by focusing strongly on customer needs."

SCCS lists a string of top-tier vendors partnership on its website. It is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, IBM Premier Business Partner, F5 Networks Gold Partner, VMware Enterprise Partner, HP Premier Business Partner, NetApp Platinum Partner, Cisco Premier Certified Partner, Symantec Channel Platinum Partner and Lenovo Diamond Partner.

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