Fri. Jan 24th, 2020

The CIO of Nutanix explains why she’s joining the board of SADA Systems, one of Google Cloud’s top partners, as the cloud giants form alliances (GOOG, GOOGL, NTNX)

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The CIO of Nutanix explains why she’s joining the board of SADA Systems, one of Google Cloud’s top partners, as the cloud giants form alliances (GOOG, GOOGL, NTNX)

  • On Tuesday, SADA Systems announced that Nutanix CIO Wendy Pfeiffer is joining its board of directors.
  • SADA Systems specializes in helping customers move to and use Google Cloud services — making it a key ally, as the company looks for any advantage in its push against Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.
  • Pfeiffer says Google Cloud has historically struggled with winning over enterprise customers, but she sees “tremendous opportunity” in joining the board of SADA Systems because Google Cloud is going through major changes and building out its partner network.
  • Currently, Google Cloud’s competitors Amazon Web Services and Microsoft have large, established partner networks to help sell their technology to customers.
  • Click here to read more BI Prime stories.

Google Cloud is working to catch up with its cloud rivals Amazon Web Services and Microsoft, and a major part of that push is building out its partner network.

Amid that backdrop, Nutanix CIO Wendy Pfeiffer tells Business Insider that she saw a “tremendous opportunity” in her new role on the board of directors of SADA Systems, once recognized by Google Cloud itself as global partner of the year. 

Now, Pfeiffer says she hopes to provide guidance and support to help SADA Systems scale, even as Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian redoubles his efforts to grow the search giant into a true challenger to Amazon Web Services, far and away the dominant cloud platform. To do so, Kurian has identified a strategy in appealing to the largest customers — a push that Pfeiffer believes SADA can help with.

“It’s pretty well known that [Google Cloud Platform] has undergone significant management change,” Pfeiffer told Business Insider. “There’s tremendous interest and focus on taking market share in the enterprise.”

As the CIO of Nutanix, Pfeiffer is in charge of the teams that help customers with running the company’s cloud storage technology on clouds like AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud, as well as their own private data centers. Pfeiffer says she hopes to bring that cross-cloud perspective to SADA Systems.

Pfeiffer says that as Google Cloud invests in its products, SADA Systems is also investing in building expertise and skills in Google Cloud products. In the past, she says, Google Cloud has struggled with obtaining enterprise customers at the same scale AWS and Microsoft have.

While Pfeiffer won’t be working directly with Google Cloud, she says partnerships such as that with SADA Systems will help it gain traction, because larger customers prefer to work with trusted consultants rather than the tech companies directly.

“There’s a thing about how enterprise IT operates at scale that hasn’t been well understood by GCP,” Pfeiffer said. “It’s so exciting to be part of this growth and additional opportunity that I’m seeing with SADA Systems.”

The ‘most obvious performance path forward’ for Google Cloud

Right now, Google Cloud competes with Microsoft, which has decades worth of partnerships to draw on, and Amazon Web Services has used its top spot in the cloud market to quickly grow its partner network. Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian told employees that it has a five-year window to become “at least the number 2 cloud.”

For both Microsoft and AWS, partners are a big part of their business. In the past two years, Microsoft generated $9.5 billion in annual contracted partner revenue and claims that 95% of its commercial revenue flows through partners. 

Meanwhile, AWS’s seven-year-old partner network has also found success by helping partners help customers take advantage of its cutting-edge new technologies. 

Now, Pfeiffer says, Google Cloud is starting to gain some traction in the enterprise as it goes after larger customers. Partners give Google Cloud a path to customers beyond just its salesforce, which Kurian plans to triple in the next few years.

Since Kurian became Google Cloud’s CEO about a year ago, the company has made several leadership hires to build its partner network, including sales president Robert Enslin and North American president Kirsten Kliphouse. 

“GCP leadership is eager to invest in any mechanisms to help them to gain traction in the enterprise traditionally, and currently channel partners are the conduit through which enterprise IT consumes technology,” Pfeiffer said. “The most obvious performance path forward for GCP to pursue their goals of enterprise relevance is through healthy, well-instrumented channel partners.”

The ‘voice of the enterprise customer’

Pfeiffer says that while the technology of Google Cloud itself stands out, when it comes to selling to partners and customers, it needs to “be more like the others.” One way that Google Cloud is doing that is by inviting partners to Google Accelerate, its annual internal sales conference, for the first time.

“The fact that Google is doing this is significant,” Pfeiffer said. “I think it’s necessary if enterprise IT is going to have the ability to consume GCP into our environment and into our budget…Now this feels like a company that is investing in channel partners.”

Pfeiffer says she believes the most powerful thing she can do as an adviser to SADA Systems is to bring the “voice of the enterprise customer” into the boardroom. 

“I can provide that expertise that information about how IT consumes and secures and so forth,” Pfeiffer said. “SADA has a wealth of knowledge in that regard…I believe it is the highest value that I can bring to SADA.”

Tony Safoian SADA Systems

Likewise, SADA Systems CEO and president Tony Safoian says that Pfeiffer can educate its leadership team in how enterprises buy and how they select partners. 

“How do we have to behave to appeal to more of the enterprise CIOs?” Safoian told Business Insider. “It’s not just on technologies they’re choosing but partners they’re having on the journey.”

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SEE ALSO: Google Cloud is inviting outside partners to its internal sales kickoff conference for the first time ever

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