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Zerto Going Big in Cloud, But 'Not Deviating from Data Protection Roots'

We're talking business opportunities with Zerto channel executives and a CSP partner at this week's ZertoCon.

ZERTOCON — Zerto’s partners are sure to sit up and take notice of the vendor’s IT Resilience platform announcement Tuesday – with a planned rollout in August – and its vision for the future of backup – in a product called Zerto 7 – expected early next year.

Zerto made the announcements at ZertoCon 2018, being held this week in Boston. 

Channel Futures caught up with Zerto executives Mariah West, director, global partner marketing, and Don Wales, vice president, global cloud sales, to talk about the company’s channel strategy and how Zerto helps partners build their business. We also talked to Andrew Cole, director of partner enablement, and Paul Starkey, strategic partner enablement, sales, at Flexential, a CSP and Zerto technology partner. 

Not long after Zerto released its first virtual replication product in 2011, the vendor’s go-to-market strategy was to be 100 percent channel. Since that time, 2012, Zerto has built a partner ecosystem that includes traditional VARs and system integrators, and cloud service providers (CSPs). The company also has a vibrant technology vendor alliance program. Well over 50 percent of Zerto partners are in North America. 

Channel Futures: What’s your role at Zerto, Don?

Don Wales: I’ve been with Zerto for about six years, and at the end of 2016 I was asked to take over the company’s cloud business. That means running the CSP business for Zerto. CSPs are our primary channel to market for our [disaster-recovery-as-a-service] opportunities as well as protection for their customers' workloads inside of their clouds. 

Don Wales

There are 350-plus active CSPs. Most of the bigger players have adopted Zerto – IBM, Microsoft Azure, AWS, for example, and other major players in the cloud space – but we also have a significant midmarket cloud provider segment, companies such as iland, Flexential, U.S. Signal and Expedient, to name some. 

CF: Who is their target market? 

DW: They go after a broad brush of customers, across different-size companies and across verticals — any customer that’s looking to get efficiencies or IT resilience and protection of their data throughout the entire life cycle of their data. 

CF: Why are CSPs partnering with Zerto? 

DW: CSPs adopted our hypervisor-based replication product very quickly. It was attractive to them because at scale, the way you did replication had a lot of moving parts. It was complex. Zerto represented change in terms of how to do disaster recovery for these cloud providers. So, it was a way for the CSPs to get efficiency out of their existing architecture and provide flexibility for what was important to them – a multitenant environment – without a lot of complexity. 

Our partners need to know that we’re not deviating from our data-protection roots. What they can expect is an extension into other areas. The CSP market and cloud market in general is seeing a blurring of lines from what is a disaster-recovery scenario to what is a backup scenario to — what is a cloud strategy? 

What we’re doing is adopting the philosophy that we want to take data protection to the next level to allow customers to take advantage of all the traditional methods of disaster recovery, data protection, and then move it into the application layer and into a mobility layer — so the application can run where it needs to run most efficiently, when it needs to run and ultimately provide choice. To allow the workload to exist where it needs to, when it needs to and have choice in the future. 

CF: Tell us about your role in the channel? 

Mariah West: We have two routes to market with partners, our traditional channel or VARs and system integrators – large and small – who purchase product and package services ... around the solution. This is our most mature channel ecosystem and we have about 1,100 partners globally. Don leads our other go-to-market partners — CSPs. 

Mariah West

CF: What are your traditional partners doing today and is the company’s CSP partner base growing faster than the traditional partner base?

MW: Interestingly enough, we’re seeing convergence between the two ecosystems. A lot of customers are going through digital transformation, and it’s not one-size-fits-all anymore — they have some things on premises, some things in public cloud, some things in managed cloud, and some things that are virtual. 

What we’re experiencing with the traditional channel is their customers are asking them questions [about digital transformation] and they have to have answers to stay relevant and thrive in the marketplace. So, we’re seeing two things: System integrators are partnering with our CSPs — we have some that have thriving channel-partner strategies. These partnerships give the traditional players some place to direct their customers. 

We’re also seeing some partners choosing to build their own cloud service group; that’s more complex, but they’re starting to have those conversations. 

Zerto offers partners more than product; we offer resilience as they’re innovating their customer’s business and giving them the option of having a lot of different partnerships, so they can provide and maintain a relationship with that customer. 

CF: What is Flexential’s partner strategy? 

Andrew Cole: We have a massive partner program. Our dedicated national and regional partner managers' focus is to go out and work with those channel partners to drive business and help qualify opportunities. And this year, we’ve added a dedicated technical team to our channel partners; think of us as the solution architects dedicated to the channel. 

Andrew Cole

I travel the country and teach VARs — it’s really getting their minds from selling the box to selling the service, and what do qualified opportunities look like? 

We’re a CSP with Zerto. We have partners who leverage us; they don’t have a data center or cloud. We just talked to a managed service provider out of Minnesota [that] has their infrastructure in our data center, so they can sell cloud. When their customer wants to recover in say, Atlanta, the MSP doesn’t have a data center in Atlanta, but we do. In that scenario, their production infrastructure replicates to our recovery cloud powered by Zerto. The partner doesn’t have to buy infrastructure for every customer that wants to be in another location. 

It works well and its growing rapidly. Flexential also does a lot of work with master agents.

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