CW: What are the tangible benefits of this engagement model?
Neelakantan: This has helped us increase the number of customers in the last year. This year, 23 percent of our business came from new customers. By virtue of that, the value of deals has gone up. It has also helped us deep-sell a lot of new solutions to existing customers.
CW: There is strong perception that NetApp is more of a mid-market player, and can't be considered an enterprise-class player. Many of your competitors play it up well to their benefit. How do your partners deal with this?
Neelakantan: We don't penalize our customers either on capacity or performance. So, whether it's our smallest customer or an Exabyte class customer, they get the same architecture. But most of our competitors seem to have a differentiated product strategy. So a small business is expected to invest further when it grows in capacity.
CW: Strangely enough, some of your key partners are of the opinion that you have a diluted SMB strategy.
Neelakantan: We don't really differentiate our customers in terms of SMB and enterprise. For us, the customer is important. The management, efficiency, back-up, recovery, and integrity of the data are paramount. We are giving all our customers the option of activating and deactivating certain features. We don't want to give a fundamentally deficient product. Many of our customers have multiple product lines that don't even talk to each other.
CW: So, you don't really divide your target markets as SMB or enterprise.
Neelakantan: We do, because the type of engagement is different and so is the kind of solution that goes in. We possess a fair share of the market in all customer segments. However, we don't segregate customers based on the turnover of the companies. We have the key enterprise and commercial accounts in India. We classify them based on the nature of engagement we have with the customer. Some accounts need direct attention from our end. Overall, the five big markets for us in India are telecom, banking, ITES, manufacturing,and government.
CW: How successful has the unified storage story been in terms of market share, considering EMC now claims that it is the leader in unified storage?
Neelakantan: We must differentiate between marketing and reality. That could be part of our competitors' marketing strategies, but their product strategies betray themselves. We are really happy with the fact that most of our competitors have started following the scale-out or unified architecture that NetApp has been proposing for several years. An example is NetApp's success in the cloud market. We have a very good presence in the cloud service provider market. A large number of cloud service providers prefer to deploy unified architecture, because their customers want the same management features and performance matrices across different storage types. The success of NetApp ONTAP is also proof of the acceptance of unified architecture.
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