Q&A: Maria Olson on the Value of Partnerships to NetApp and Our Customers

To celebrate NetApp’s 20th anniversary as a public company, we had an opportunity to gather some thoughts from Maria Olson, NetApp vice president of Global and Strategic Alliances, who shared with us why partnerships have been so critical for NetApp and our customers.

As the vice president of Global and Strategic Alliances, can you tell us a bit about the role partnerships have played in NetApp reaching this 20-year milestone?

We wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for the strength of the relationships we’ve built with our partners. We’re really proud of the alliances that we have with global industry leaders.


A huge part of our success comes from always remembering why we’re in business. It sounds cliche, but our real goal is to help our customers achieve the outcomes that matter most to them. We’re deeply committed to innovation that gives our customers a competitive advantage. To achieve these things, we need to treat our customers as partners in developing business solutions that work.


Customers’ needs have changed a lot over the past 20 years. How has NetApp evolved its partner program to keep pace?

Our products help people solve problems-that’s a huge part of what we do. But one-size-fits-all solutions don’t work anymore. As our customers’ needs become more specialized and more specific, our partners help us tailor our product offerings to what certain sectors need. We wouldn’t have a full appreciation of what customers need without the business intelligence that our partner organizations bring to the table.


Then, once we’ve defined a problem and developed a storage solution that works, our partners have become our window to the world. Put simply, we reach more people through our partner network than we ever could alone.


Tell us more about that. How have partnerships changed from a technology standpoint, from your perspective?

The need for innovation has never been greater than it is today. We’re seeing tremendous disruptions and opportunities in the industry-across cloud, mobility, social, big data, converged infrastructure, you name it. Our track record for building solid partnerships puts NetApp in the perfect position to take advantage of these opportunities.


Partners are betting their own business on new and more ground-breaking customer- focused solutions. These are game-changing times. Partners want to know that NetApp will be there with them, delivering vision and leadership in data management along the way.


That’s the biggest difference I’ve seen-that our partners are thinking bigger, longer term and more strategically than they have in the past. Our partners will continue to be a critical differentiator for us as we look ahead to the next 20 great years.


What are you most proud of leading up to this milestone anniversary?

A huge part of NetApp’s differentiation is our culture. It shapes how we partner with our ecosystem and it drives how we think as an organization. Since joining NetApp in 2011, I’ve seen firsthand what a dynamic and responsive team we have-thousands of people who work on all aspects of data management solutions to integrate these into our partner offerings. It has led to multiple awards for us and for our partners along the way.


And while all the recognition is terrific, probably the award I am most proud of is NetApp’s 13 consecutive years on the Fortune “100 Best Companies to Work For” list. We are a great place to work because we have a great team of people. And that is a pretty special 20-year accomplishment.

NetApp Staff

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