New leadership at HDS A/NZ refocuses on channel

Storage vendor is reconnecting with partners to move away from its direct sales approach.

Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) in A/NZ has spent 2014 transforming itself into a channel-focused company, according to vice president and general manager, Neil Evans.

When Evans moved into HDS A/NZ last year from HDS EMEA, he saw it was the “most direct-orientated Hitachi subsidiary in the world.”

“We had the perception of being direct to market, which was at odds at every HDS subsidiary I’ve worked with or for,” he said.

At the time, 75 per cent of the A/NZ operation was focused on direct sales with customers.

“We had an approach to bidding where would see if we could do it direct, and if we could not we’d look for a partner to do it,” Evans said.

HDS A/NZ used a state-based business model, and Evans said this resulted in no best practice sharing among regions.

In Western Australia, where HDS had partnered locally, the business was growing, though the remaining regions were maintaining revenue but not expanding.

This issue was addressed by consolidated the state-based businesses into four regions, and instructing territory-based staff to work with partners to make sales instead of going direct.

The changes were implemented early last year, so Evans said the team has only come to productivity now.

“Our business is growing quickly, with the number of tractions with partners significantly ahead of what it used to be,” he said.

Opportunities in scale

With high profile datacentre launches by Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure in Australia, some industry observers wonder if it will squeeze small players out.

Evans said he is not worried about the “model they bring to the market in terms of workloads in a public Cloud.”

“I’m more concerned personally as a vendor in terms they have proved commodity architectures work,” he said.

What Amazon and Microsoft are doing is giving credence to the notion that a “badge can be taken off a box” and it can still be bought in scale.

“Now as long as you have scale and it has to be massive, you can go and do that,” he said.

Patrick Budmar attended HDS’ A/NZ Partner Summit 2014 as a guest of HDS.