"I want everyone to think of themselves as a channel chief," says Rubrik's new channel boss.

Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

January 12, 2018

11 Min Read

**Editor’s Note: Click here to see which channel people were on the move in December.**

Rubrik‘s new vice president of worldwide channels plans to increase the company’s focus on training to allow partners to become experts on its cloud data-management technology.

Bertrand Yansouni has helped design and execute go-to-market strategies at enterprise technology companies for more than 25 years. In his most recent role as Google Cloud’s vice president of global partner sales and strategic partnerships, he was responsible for a go-to-market community of 13,000 partners and led a business unit that achieved 300 percent year-over-year growth.


Rubrik’s Bertrand Yansouni

With Rubrik, he is charged with developing and leading the global vision and strategy for its partners.

“From day one, Rubrik has pursued a 100 percent channel driven go-to-market strategy,” said Bipul Sinha, Rubrik’s co-founder and CEO. “We’re excited to broaden our capabilities with Bertrand taking leadership of channel and Randy Schirman focusing exclusively on our rapidly growing managed service provider business. Bertrand’s 25 years of experience building high-performing channel organizations is a big win for Rubrik, our partners and customers.”

Prior to joining Google, Yansouni was Cloudera’s vice president of global partner sales. He also has held channel leadership roles at Riverbed Technology and VMware.

“As an early adopter of Rubrik technology, I am encouraged to see Rubrik aggressively invest in the channel as their singular go-to-market strategy,” said Mike Carter, co-founder and CEO of eGroup, a Rubrik partner. “Their long-view focus on top personnel, coupled with a brilliantly simple product that delivers immediate customer outcomes, makes Rubrik the obvious long-term partner for eGroup and the data management needs of our clients. We look forward to working with Bertrand, and the entire Rubrik team, to further deliver eGroup’s brand of ‘speed and certainty’ on the Rubrik platform.”

In a Q&A with Channel Partners, Yansouni talks about the challenge ahead leading Rubrik’s channel strategy.

Channel Partners: Why did you want to join Rubrik?

Bertrand Yansouni: When I did extensive due diligence on Rubrik, there were a few things that really stood out for me. First, as a salesperson, I’m a huge believer that great success starts when you have great technology that brings huge cost savings and tremendous value. To have great technology that does that, you really need outstanding engineering, and it was very clear to me that here at Rubrik there is a deep culture of engineering excellence and innovation. These are the hallmarks of any great software company. That was a very important component. And second for me was the market fit, the product fit and the channel fit. Rubrik and its partners are bringing massive positive disruption to a huge market, and it’s a huge market in which there has been a complete lack of innovation in the past one, two, even three decades. Because of that, companies are essentially doing the same thing in the backup and recovery space as they have been doing for the past 10-20 years in dealing with complexity, dealing with pain and dealing with expense — because there has been no better alternative. Now with Rubrik, there is, and because the company has really hit the nail on the head in terms of the products and market fit, we’re just experiencing that explosive customer adoption and customer growth. And then the third and final thing is …

… that the team that has been assembled here at Rubrik across all functions is the best in the industry and the best that I’ve ever been associated with.

CP: What’s your take on Rubrik’s current channel program and strategy?

BY: One of the fantastic things here is the existing momentum with partners. We have been from day one and continue to be a 100 percent channel company, and I see a tremendous amount of great activity and investments from our partners. So I think all of the fundamentals are already in place and now it’s a question of fine tuning this over time, and you’re never done with that. You constantly want to improve. So one of my priorities is I want to make sure I take the time to meet with and listen to our existing partners in terms of what they view as working well and the areas where they would like to see us double down even more, meeting with customers to understand their view of what partners are doing with Rubrik, and with our sales organization, and out of all of that really fine-tune the strategy that we want to take to market over the next two to five years.

All that said, certainly one area that where I think you can never do too much is in the area of technical enablement of partners, and that will be a very key area of focus for me in terms of the investments that we will make there. I’ve always felt that the best partners, they want to be experts in the technology, they want to be as good as the best people within our organization, they want to be the experts in front of their own customers, so this is critical on Rubrik to make sure we enable them.

And from day one, the strategy here has been to focus on a smaller number of partners. We don’t measure success in terms of the size of the ecosystem of partners. Obviously we want to have adequate coverage, but for us success with a partner is when we are a meaningful part of their business, they are committed to us and we are committed to them, and we’re aggressively going to market together and bringing joint value to customers. So we’re going to continue with that overall strategy. We want to continue to be very focused on a smaller number of partners where we can put more wood behind that arrow and go deep with these partners.

CP: How will your previous experience, whether with Google Cloud, Cloudera or VMware, come into play in your new role with Rubrik?

BY: I do think an amazing opportunity that we have here is to help our partners help their own customers with adopting the cloud and on their journey to the cloud. I think we can all see that the cloud continues to be a dominant force out there, and obviously a lot of customers’ initiatives, sometimes driven from the board, the CEO and CIO, (are) to get onto the cloud and get as many workloads as quickly as possible onto the cloud. And a lot of partners, especially traditional infrastructure partners, have not always been sure how to best do that. But partners like solutions that help them bring their customers onto the cloud. And I think one of the wonderful things here at Rubrik is we are …

… natively a cloud-enabled solution and we provide a very easy on-ramp for customers to get onto the cloud and a very easy on-ramp for our partners to help customers get onto the cloud. So I think there’s a great opportunity there to guide our partners and help them guide their customers onto the cloud.

CP: What’s your take on Rubrik’s value proposition for the channel? Is improvement needed?

BY: I truly believe that the channel opportunity at Rubrik is literally as good as it gets, certainly as good as anything that I have seen, and I say that based on a few things. First, Rubrik is a perfectly horizontal technology; we have hundreds of customers and they are literally across every vertical. And why that matters to a partner is because a partner can look at their entire portfolio of existing customers or new accounts they’re trying to get into and Rubrik is a great fit for every midmarket and enterprise account in their portfolio, which effectively means every company in their portfolio, because most of the channel partners that we’re working with are selling to the midmarket and the enterprise. So huge opportunity, there’s literally not a company that they’re talking to or wanting to talk to that is’t a good fit for Rubrik. The second is partners primarily care about about two things: first, their customers, and second, their ability to build a differentiated and profitable business. And so when it comes to their customers, the best partners always feel a responsibility first to their customers and they only want to bring them the best new solutions, solutions that they know will perform, will scale and are proven — and most importantly they know are going to help their customers save money, innovate faster and get on the cloud faster, and Rubrik helps them do all of these things.

And the great thing with Rubrik is there [are] a lot of different ways for partners to make money. Of course, there’s always margin on the product, and Rubrik has a combination of a short sales cycle and a great average deal size, and then repeat business from customers coming within a few months and buying additional products. That’s wonderful for partners in terms of making money on the sale of the product. And then beyond that … we enable our partners to make money from services, whether it’s using our RESTful APIs to drive additional orchestration, additional automation or integration into some of our key ISV partners like a ServiceNow or a Splunk, or others. So there’s a whole set of different ways for our partners to make money when they are representing Rubrik and that’s really exciting to them and to us.

CP: Have you received any feedback yet from Rubrik partners? What are they telling you?

BY: Even before joining Rubrik, I reached out to some of the channel partners that I had the privilege of working with in the past, and that I knew were working with Rubrik or were considering it, and one of my factors for joining was …

… hearing so much positivity about not just the growth of the company, but more importantly, the customer reaction to the technology and the value they’re getting from it.

But I’m not taking anything for granted, and I want to go out and have as many in-depth discussions as I can because as great as things may be, there’s always room for improvement; that journey is never over. I’m going to be in New York next week (and) I already have scheduled a number of meetings with existing partners. I’m going to Europe at the end of this month and I expect to be in Asia before the end of the quarter, and again I’m going to be asking a lot of open-ended questions. And if I know my partners well, I expect to get a lot of very helpful and transparent feedback, and I look forward to that. We want their help in making sure that we’re shaping our program and our infrastructure in a way that makes us a delight to work with.

CP: What do you hope to accomplish in your first year in this new role and how does that tie into Rubrik’s overall goals for 2018?

BY: There [are] a number of things that I would like to see us accomplish as a team. One of the key priorities is going to be around building out … a solid curriculum around technical enablement so that we can really start to measure the success of our partners in really getting up to speed on the technology and becoming those ninjas that I know our best partners want to be. That’s a key goal, and I don’t want it to take the full year, but obviously that will be an ongoing project.

The second thing is continuing to really be focused as an organization, prioritizing hand in hand with our sales team and getting agreement on in each region or sub-region what is that very short list of partners that we want to invest heavily on and whom we are seeing investing in us and displaying the right behaviors, and making sure that we’ve got great field alignment and formation across the organization.

The other thing that for me is an absolute priority is I never want Rubrik to be a place where people think there’s the channel team and that’s who cares about the channel. From an engineer to somebody in finance, to somebody in the field and so forth, I want everyone to think of themselves as a channel chief. I want everyone to be invested in the success of the channel.

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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