10 minutes with Tintri by DataDirect Networks (DDN)

Tintri by DDN, the specialist in intelligent infrastructure for virtualised environments and long-term partner of Nuvias’ across EMEA, has recently announced some new, exciting channel programs to entice new partners across the region. Following a huge growth surge in Tintri’s sales since their acquisition by DDN, Nuvias caught up with Mark Walsh, VP of International […]

Tintri by DDN, the specialist in intelligent infrastructure for virtualised environments and long-term partner of Nuvias’ across EMEA, has recently announced some new, exciting channel programs to entice new partners across the region.

Following a huge growth surge in Tintri’s sales since their acquisition by DDN, Nuvias caught up with Mark Walsh, VP of International Sales, and Darren Gross, Director of Channels for EMEA, to understand what the investment by DDN means to partners and customers alike.

Nuvias: It has now been nearly 12 months since DDN acquired the Tintri portfolio. How successful has the acquisition been, and how does it feel being part of the largest privately owned data storage company in the world?

Mark Walsh, VP of International Sales
Mark Walsh, VP of International Sales

MW: Both Darren and I worked for Tintri before the acquisition by DDN and, like any major change in management and ownership, it was a case of “time will tell”. Given we’re nearly 12 months in, what I will say is that DDN have been amazing, investing from day one in Tintri, our systems, our people, future product development, and support – which is ultimately an investment in our customers and partners. From every perspective, DDN have just done the right thing! At the beginning of only the third quarter under DDN’s ownership we won a Frost & Sullivan Product Leadership Award for Intelligent Storage Management with our Tintri Global Centre (TGC) platform. TGC provides detailed management insights to streamline storage management across multiple systems. Its forward-looking insights help businesses plan accordingly by leveraging our real-time, predictive analytics capabilities, another area of significant R&D investment under DDN’s ownership.

You asked what it’s like being part of the largest privately-owned data storage company – well to be honest, 12 months in and we’re achieving great things, seeing both existing customers increasing their Tintri footprint significantly as well as many new customers investing in our technology across the globe, with both old and new partners enjoying good margins. From a sales perspective I have to say that with DDN’s great management team and investment, there’s no place I’d rather be!

Nuvias: How have existing partners and customers responded to the acquisition?

MW: Both customers and partners viewed the DDN acquisition and investment as extremely positive. When I attended VMworld in San Francisco I had the opportunity to meet with a wide mix of existing customers, partners, and prospects. There is a genuine air of excitement around our solutions, but more importantly our roadmap, which for any vendor is a sign that you’re heading in the right direction. I’m looking forward to attending VMworld in Barcelona in November given what I saw in the US, as we have lots of exciting news to share – please do come by and see us. From a DDN perspective, it’s a continuing investment as most recently we’ve also acquired Nexenta, rounding off our solution portfolio even further.

Nuvias: As a vendor with a 100% channel model across EMEA, the partner community is obviously very important to you. What are your plans for the channel going forward, and what can existing and new channel partners look forward to from Tintri by DDN?

Darren Gross, Director of Channels for EMEA
Darren Gross, Director of Channels for EMEA

DG: As Mark mentions, DDN are investing heavily in R&D and product development, which will see us introducing new hardware and software solutions to market, allowing our partners to both open up new accounts as well as maximizing sales potential with existing customers. I’ll let Mark talk later on some very exciting developments from a product standpoint but further testament to DDN’s continued investment in Tintri, is the appointment of Anand Ghatnekar as VP of Engineering. Anand is an industry expert who held similar roles at Seagate, EMC, Symantec and Computer Associates.

Going forward, whilst we do already have a network of valued and very loyal solution partners, we do have partner recruitment on our agenda. I need to make it clear that although we are looking to recruit additional partners given the substantial opportunity and growth we are currently experiencing, this will be done in a very controlled and strategic fashion, adding partners who can help with our geographic coverage and who offer specialised solutions to their customers, where Tintri has relevance.

We will not end up like many other vendors who over distribute and recruit way too many resellers. This ends up in a race to the bottom from a margin perspective for all involved and is not good for business. Our partners do, and we want them to, retain great margins, enjoy sales and technical support throughout and beyond the sales cycle, and they can expect 100% loyalty from Tintri by DDN on any identified opportunity. I mention this as in my career I’ve heard so many times the words – “thanks for the lead but unfortunately it’s a direct account!”. Oh, and on that 100% channel model, yes, we intend to remain that way!

Nuvias: Partner recruitment is clearly key on your agenda. What type of partner are you looking for, and what support and incentives can you offer new partners to get them up-to-speed with the Tintri by DDN proposition?

DG: As our intelligent infrastructure solutions are “VM-aware”, meaning that storage policies and actions can all be taken at the VM level, any partner who works with customers with highly virtualised environments, specialises in VDI, or provides solutions to DevOps teams, are all of interest, given how our systems perform and shine in these environments. Thousands of organisations have saved millions of hours of management by choosing Tintri to eliminate planning and administration work with automation. Any partner who offers trusted advice to help its customers achieve efficiencies and agility in virtualised environments is well positioned to sell the value of Tintri by DDN.

I’m sure we’ve all heard enough of the ‘Cloud’ word and yes, we play here too, with the unit of currency for Cloud being the virtual machine, so again partners who are assisting customers in migrating workloads, building both on-prem and hosted DCs are all of interest. Due to our ‘hands off’ approach to storage management through automation and our ability to guarantee QoS at the VM level, we also see many Public Sector organisations and global Cloud Service Providers building their customer-facing infrastructure on Tintri. We offer free certification training both for sales and technical staff which is non-onerous or too time consuming. Unlike other vendors, we want our partners to sell with us rather than sat behind a desk taking exams! We offer full sales and technical support on every opportunity so our regional teams will be there, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with you in front of the customer!

Every partner always asks for leads, so in conjunction with Nuvias we’ve invested in lead-generation activities and initiatives designed to drive opportunity from the partners installed base. We support partners in uncovering opportunities, through both customer or prospect data analysis and we do the heavy lifting to create new opportunities that we progress with the partner and our sales team. We have also relaunched the very rewarding Tintri Incentive Program that lets our partners, either the company or the individuals involved in the sale (at partner management discretion), accrue funds that can be used either to reward the sales team or added to the partners bottom line – a little like a rebate program but without the challenges of targets! In short, we want our partners to be making good margins.

Nuvias: In what markets do you think that Tintri by DDN is a good fit, and how does the product offer something different from the average storage platform?

MW: Tintri fits well into any organisation using virtualisation, with simplicity and predictive analytics being key differentiators for Tintri. Our systems can be rack-mounted, powered and serving VMs within 30 minutes by anyone, even someone with no storage experience. Unlike many other vendors we have no hidden services and configuration costs. Given our unique approach to storage for virtual environments, with the virtual machine at the heart of everything we do – setting policies, applying QoS, snapshotting, replication and cloning, all at the VM level, Tintri fits well in any environment where simplicity and hands-off management is required.

Due to our key differentiators Tintri is very often selected by Service Providers and Public Sector organisations, (including schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, local government), but we have customers across every single vertical. We see customers using us for large-scale VDI deployments, Development / Testing (DevOps), internal Cloud, as well as within massively virtualised environments. I think a recent comment I heard from a Tintri customer sums up the benefits of Tintri really well. They said: “With Tintri, we no longer have to spend time managing storage and as a result we have more time to focus on key business requirements”.

Nuvias: And finally, what can new and existing customers look forward to on the new Tintri by DDN roadmap?

MW: As Darren and I have stated, with DDN as our parent, we have access to some pretty unique technical capabilities and we are investing significantly in the future development of the Tintri platform. There is a lot of excitement from our customers and the market around Tintri providing automation and analytics for Databases further up the infrastructure stack, an offering that we’ll be releasing soon. Imagine being able to apply those “per VM” actions and policies as mentioned above (QoS, snapshotting, replication and closing etc) at the SQL database level. Another area of significant investment is around our analytics, helping our customers to be able to predict and plan for the future, based on workloads and capacity, not just at the storage level. Our Analytics can help you build models, showing future compute and network needs as your environment grows. Other hot topics include Storage vMotion offload, FIPS 140-2 with plenty more to come. We’re certainly not resting on our laurels and standing still!