NetApp Keystone acts as the bridge: Puneet Gupta

Puneet Gupta

“NetApp Keystone acts as the bridge that connects the pillars of capex and hybrid cloud strategy – delivers financial flexibility, agility, and reduces monetary risks that allow customers to meet their cash flows and business needs,” says Puneet Gupta, MD and VP – NetApp India and SAARC.

NetApp has been present in India for more than two decades now. However, the Sunnyvale, US-headquartered company last December decided to allow its local entity to conduct business directly in the Indian market. Following this decision, it also introduced the NetApp Keystone program in India keeping in view the adoption and growth of hybrid cloud among customers but also cost implications and other factors.

In this interview, Puneet Gupta, MD and VP – NetApp India and SAARC talks to TechHerald about the decision to allow its local entity to conduct business directly and its impact on business and channel partners. He also discusses the NetApp Keystone program and its purpose along with the company’s GTM strategy for 2022 and much more.

Edited excerpts…

Q1. Recently, NetApp decided to allow its Indian subsidiary to conduct business directly in the Indian market. So what are the key reasons behind this change now although NetApp has been present in India for over two decades?
Puneet Gupta:
India is an important market for NetApp both for the great market opportunity it presents and the enormous talent pool that serves the innovation engine. Over the years we had the privilege to work with some of the marquee brands and important enterprise customers in India.

Our customers are now looking for solutions based on cloud offerings and consumption models. Hence, we decided to facilitate the NetApp Keystone program to offer customers a seamless hybrid cloud experience, with storage services that span on-prem and cloud options with less cash upfront.

With this, our customers in India can benefit from the latest technologies without having to bear import costs, as well as enjoy the pay as you go model that comes with NetApp Keystone. What this essentially does is, free up cash flow and allow for increased financial flexibility with the right mix of payment, subscription, and usage-based services. NetApp’s investment in the local billing entity will offer our customers the Keystone program as outlined above.

Q2. What does this ‘conduct business directly’ actually means to NetApp India and how will it impact the company’s overall business ahead?
Puneet Gupta
: Across the nation, enterprises have made great strides in their digital transformation journey over the last few years.

At NetApp, we have seen a double-digit percentage growth, year-on-year, in the All-Flash Array (AFA) market segment in India, according to the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Enterprise Storage Systems Tracker, Q2 2021 (September 2021 release). This performance elevated NetApp’s position from third to first, in the local AFA segment, with a market share of 30.1% by vendor revenue.

Being at the forefront of technology-led innovation, with NetApp Keystone, we are ramping up investment in the Indian market and are now able to pass on larger benefits to local units and provide easier access to our clients than ever before.

NetApp Keystone acts as the bridge that connects the pillars of capex and hybrid cloud strategy – delivers financial flexibility, agility, and reduces monetary risks that allow customers to meet their cash flows and business needs. The program also offers brands a host of flexible payment options such as traditional financing, leasing, and fixed/variable options for cash-conscious customers along with Flex Subscription.

What this does is, free up IT staff from complex storage-related tasks, allowing them to focus on application management. In addition, it aligns data storage costs with business needs and simplifies infrastructure provisioning by bypassing complex organisational procurement procedures.

Q3. From NetApp India’s overall business perspective, how has been business growth for the company in 2021?
Puneet Gupta:
Business models are shifting really fast in a world where software is everything. As a result, in a cloud-first world, our focus is on becoming software-centric. Our performance is mirrored by the demand created for cloud and data-driven digital transformation.

At this juncture, we enable our customers to achieve their business and hybrid cloud transformation goals through our various solutions. We have seen strong demand for All-Flash Array (AFA) portfolio, Cloud services, BFSI, Telecom, IT / ITeS and Cloud service provider segment.

In India, we have provided considerable value to cloud services by providing backup, recovery, and data security solutions that boost agility, efficiency, and cost advantage ecosystems. At a global level, NetApp is focusing on its commitment to India by allowing the Indian subsidiary to do business locally and directly with our Indian client base through our partner network. Our presence in India has grown as a result of our hybrid multi-cloud strategy and reputation as a trusted partner for our customers.

When we talk about the demand for technology solutions in the Indian market, it is very clear that the All-Flash Array (AFA) market has grown by double-digit percentages year over year. Recently, we launched the latest evolution of the all-flash storage system Array portfolio with NetApp AFF A900 that provides organisations with the highest data storage performance to accelerate their business enterprise database and application needs.

We recently announced our partnership with Narayana Healthcare – one of the largest hospital groups in the country. As a healthcare partner to over 2.6 million patients every year, data is critical to their operations. We partnered with Narayana Healthcare to install our technology solutions to store and process patient records and photographs, in response to a growing demand for digital health services.

The resulting system, Athma, captures, stores, and retrieves networks across 15 sites. The system enables medical staff and patients to access their entire medical history in a few seconds—further enhancing the quality of healthcare services provided by Narayana.

Q4. Will the direct business model have any impact on NetApp’s partners in the Indian market?
Puneet Gupta:
NetApp in India remains committed to a 100% channel model and our partners will continue to work with us as before. With the introduction of NetApp Keystone, they can look forward to more business participation from customers. We can now pass on greater benefits to our customers, and our partners will continue to help us achieve customer success through new programs being rolled out shortly.

We recently updated our Unified Partner Program. We have simplified our programs to remove complications and get some rebate percentage. What we have also done not only for our partner organisations but also for partner sales teams is introduced an incentive program. Moreover, we are training our partners and providing them with a platform from where they can guide their customers to turn their data into a ‘proactive’ differentiating asset.

Q5. With this change, what will be NetApp India’s go-to-market strategy and approach in 2022?
Puneet Gupta:
In today’s highly dynamic technology space, speed is the new scale. Organisations too demand solutions that can help them put their data to work to keep innovating and stay ahead of the digital curve. At NetApp, we are working towards this, to better serve the needs of our customers.

We are soon going to deliver a personalized, data-driven engagement model that allows our current and future customers to move at warp speed, and align with the new way they want to engage with their solution partners.

The changes we recently announced at a global level to our GTM strategy will see the company ramp up its efforts to drive consistency and simplicity across the global sales organisation, and more aggressively address key markets and segments while reaching new customers and partners.

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