Cohesity’s New Channel Lead Ready to Accelerate Partner Growth

No newcomer to the channel, Cohesity's Bill Lipsin has momentum just two weeks into the job.

Lynn Haber

November 1, 2019

5 Min Read

Still warming up his seat at Cohesity, Bill Lipsin, who officially took the top channel slot at the company on Oct. 21, is strategizing about how he’ll expand Cohesity’s channel community in line with the company’s future aspirations.

A veteran channel executive, Lipson replaced Todd Palmer, the former vice president, worldwide, channels, who worked at Cohesity for about two-and-a-half years. Palmer is now senior vice president, worldwide strategic partners and alliances with Hitachi Vantara.

Lipsin-Bill_Cohesity.jpgAlthough not quite two weeks into his new job, Lipsin chatted with Channel Futures about his new role.

Channel Futures: With two rounds of funding under its belt – the most recent, $250 million in June 2018 and $70 million in 2013 – Cohesity, a leader in the hyperconverged secondary storage space, is on a growth path. How does that tie to hiring you?

Bill Lipsin: As the company continues to grow and look at the opportunities in front of us, it was determined to make sure that we evaluated the skills needed to get us to the next level. That’s how my hiring came about.

CF: Are there plans to change the channel team, and what percentage of Cohesity business goes through partners?

BL: Right now, all our business goes through partners. I’d say we’re channel-driven, and I use those words because one of the keys to our success to date has been the tight coordination and collaboration between our own sales teams and our partners.

You’re onto something because having done this for so many years, that’s often the area of conflict that partners feel when working with any vendor. Cohesity has taken a strong stance in working very closely with our partners, in a co-sell model.

CF: So how big is Cohesity’s channel team?

BL: I can’t give you numbers today, but it’s a pretty dynamic, it’s a growing team. We’ve doubled the team in the Americas in the last year and we’re in the process of looking at what we need to do for the rest of the world. We also work with our distributors (Tech Data in North America) for those partners who aren’t driving a lot of Cohesity business, to date.

Another point, we have HPE and Cisco, who are not just investors, but also key alliances and our partners purchase Cohesity through them as well.

CF: Talk about your objectives.

BL: At a high level, the areas we’re continuing to focus on are the midmarket and enterprise growth areas, including the government sector — that’s for both on-prem and cloud. Areas where we’re investigating – leveraging partner services as well as insuring that we go after that really explosive opportunity, the 80% of the data that’s not mission-critical, which is everything from backup and recovery to cloud integration, to test and development and analytics – and if you look at that overall market segment, that’s an almost $60 billion market.

What we’re trying to do is help our partners identify where the real initial sales are, such as backup and recovery, which is at the forefront, but file and object is right behind that, as well as some other areas that are getting attention from customers.

This is not just trying to do the same things over and over again, but how to start to redefine data management. People have always talked about some of the largest assets in the company as being people, and that’s true, but they also realize that …

… data is an absolutely critical element, not just to keep their businesses running, but to gain competitive edge. So, if you can give them the ability to manage the data more effectively than ever before, that gives them the opportunity to grow their businesses, find additional efficiencies and add more value in the marketplace. That’s why we’re focused on that 80% of the data.

CF: Channel Partners/Channel Futures launched its Top Gun 51 awards this year, recognizing next-gen channel leaders. What would you say is different about leading a channel organization 10-20 years ago versus leading one today?

BL: For a channel leader or vendor, what we’ve got to be doing is not just looking at how you keep today’s business running, but also how to assist channel partners at least in being aware and provide some on-ramp to go forward. So, a channel leader has to work on today’s targets and objectives but also have an eye to the future. The next generation of technology includes a level of cloud, IoT – technologies that are disruptive – and that’s uncomfortable for a lot of people. That means a channel leader must have credibility in delivering on results today, but also on having a vision and set of initiatives that are clearly understood and communicated, and then can be executed. A lot of people have great ideas, but they can’t execute on them or the time may not be right.

I’ve had to change how I approach the job. It’s the same basics – you might have to do strong personnel management, financial and business management – but now it’s much more looking beyond the four walls than I think we could in the old days. For example, partners have a much stronger relationship and value available working with customers today. So, you must make sure that you understand the business model of your partners and you don’t disperse your investments and resources too widely, and instead focus on those [partner] organizations that add value to the customer and to you, as a vendor.

For me, it’s critical for the vendors and partners to work together. You need to find as many opportunities as possible to eliminate any unnecessary friction in the channel. That means defining the processes together with your partners that leverage the unique skills and abilities of the both the partner and the vendor. That’s easier said than done, and it means having a clear set of rules of engagement so that your own internal teams know how to work with partners.

That also gets back to another point which is important for every vendor — that’s educating your own internal audiences not just once, but on an ongoing basis, because things do change in terms of some of the partner investments and capabilities, but also as vendors roll out new products and strategies, you need to ensure that you have your partners as part of that process upfront and not after the fact.

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About the Author(s)

Lynn Haber

Content Director Lynn Haber follows channel news from partners, vendors, distributors and industry watchers. If I miss some coverage, don’t hesitate to email me and pass it along. Always up for chatting with partners. Say hi if you see me at a conference!

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