In my previous posts I have discussed how organizations are utilizing their data to build data driven business strategies that transforms their business and enables them to cope with the digital dynamics of this world. In this particular post, I want to touch base on the fact that digital transformation has also directly and indirectly impacted the go to market strategies of many data center hardware and software providers including the Channel Partner ecosystem that is considered one of the main pillars of any go to market strategy in the vendor and customer relationship world. I would also highlight NetApp’s efforts to help the channel ecosystem develop their capabilities, specially speaking about the AI space.
NetApp channel organization and NetApp channel Go-To-Market strategy have dramatically evolved over time. Chris Lamborn highlighted most of these evolvements very precisely in his recent blog “The Value of the Channel Depends on Our Ability to Change It”. Moreover, to build on what Chris has already highlighted, the introduction of NetApp/NVIDIA AI offerings such as ONTAP AI and Flexpod AI, brought along the challenge of building specialized partner programs around these AI offerings.
Despite the fact that awareness of AI within our industry is becoming more and more spread, I am still convinced that AI and specifically the Deep Learning aspect of it is definitely not everyone’s playground. It is becoming very obvious that, as an IT vendor, positioning just the infrastructure or just the software element or even just the consulting services in an AI project is not a winning game anymore. Customers are increasingly asking for specialized teams that could help them build and deliver the entire AI project; i.e. start from as simple as the AI use case for their specific business use, move from the use case into a project, develop, train and implement the algorithms required to apply AI as well as delivering the whole solution end to end including hardware, software and consulting services.
Unsurprisingly, we have seen the rise of new partners in the AI space, as well as the eagerness of the traditional datacenter partners to develop AI practices within their organizations in order to offer the aforementioned end to end AI services to their customers. The NetApp AI channel ecosystem continues to evolve. Today, NetApp already has a rich set of channel partners that are actively engaged with customers from Proof of Concepts into large scale production AI projects.
To further support the AI channel ecosystem and help them build their AI practices, we are happy to announce our sponsorship to NVIDIA’s AI Champions program for EMEA NPN partners in its enhanced version 3. In this version of the AI Champions Program, the award winners; the AI Champions, will not only have the chance to visit NVIDIA’s AI facilities in Silicon Valley and join the AI Summit, but will also get the opportunity to become data visionaries by touring the NetApp Data Visionary Center at NetApp Sunnyvale HQ and get the opportunity to meet top NetApp executives.
Another new addition in to this version of the program is the exciting Vertical Specialized Award for partners who are able to help customers accelerate their AI projects in any of the Automotive, Financial Services, Healthcare or Higher Education/Research verticals leveraging joint NetApp and NVIDIA ONTAP AI solutions.
Finally, NetApp is thrilled to collaborate with NVIDIA on this program and we are looking forward to having partners from across Europe, Middle East and Africa region join the program and become AI Champions by pioneering in one of the most highly valued technology advancements of this world.
For more information on the AI Champions program and how to be part of it and become an AI Champion, please contact your NetApp Channel Partner Manager.