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Refuting persistent rumors and speculation that NetApp will shake
off its solution providers in favor of a direct sales model, newly
installed global channel chief Julie Parrish says the storage vendor is
committed to growing its channel and working with solution providers to
battle competitors head on.

“I don’t think
[NetApp] would have hired senior talent if they were going to pull out
of the channel,” she said in her first in-depth interview since joining
the company Nov. 3. “NetApp has a huge commitment to the channel to
bring senior channel talent to accelerate revenue. More [NetApp]
business is going through the channel today than there was a year ago.”


addition to landing Parrish to head global channels, NetApp also
recently hired former CA channel executive Todd Palmer to head North
America channels.


At the end of the
first week on a new job, most people are still haplessly wandering
halls in search of everything from office supplies to conference rooms.
Not Parrish, who seems to have easily taken to her new environs at
NetApp. Giving few signs that she’s been drinking from an information
fire hose from a continual stream of briefings and executive
introductions, she’s already articulating opportunities and challenges
facing NetApp’s channel.


Parrish’s initial
assessment: NetApp has a sound and healthy channel. “Partners at NetApp
are happy. It’s a good program that’s focused, and they [partners] are
making money.”


Parrish is one of the
most well-known and respected channel executives, having spent the last
five years heading up Symantec’s massive global channel program of
nearly 60,000 partners. Her channel credentials include sales and
marketing posts at such high-profile vendors as Veritas and 3Com. And
she has a record for navigating strident channel challenges and
crises—most notably Symantec’s botched ERP implementation in 2007 that
nearly brought the channel to a standstill and last summer’s flap over
statements made to Wall Street analysts that Symantec was taking more
business direct.


NetApp’s channel of
450 North America partners and 1,300 worldwide partners is
substantially smaller than the one Parrish left at Symantec. Why make
the jump to NetApp? It’s more than a change of scenery. Like her job at
Symantec, Parrish will have responsibility for setting strategic
direction and building the resources that enable solution providers.
Unlike her Symantec role, she holds revenue responsibility and has a
mandate for increasing revenue. “Here, I have a focus on improving
sales as much as the [channel] infrastructure,” she says.