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‘7 Minutes’ with Ctera Networks SVP and GM John Williams

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**Editor’s Note: “7 Minutes” is a feature where we ask channel executives from startups – or companies that may be new to the Channel Partners audience – a series of quick questions about their businesses and channel programs.**

By Pam Baker

Startup cloud file-system company Ctera Networks reaped $30 million in Series D growth equity funding this month. The company says it is cash-flow positive so it plans to use this latest cash infusion to further develop its software and expand its global sales efforts into Southeast Asia. Founded in 2008, Ctera has dual headquarters in New York and Israel. Its current regional office lineup includes the U.K., Italy, France, Spain, Germany and Australia.

A cloud file system is built on a hub-and-spoke design for distributing data. The data-storage hub is in the cloud. The spokes are cache systems made of software and hardware appliances installed locally, such as at branch or remote offices, or localized, on-premises data centers. Cloud file systems enable faster retrieval of live data in frequent or immediate use at each locale while also providing the benefits of longer-term cloud storage. There are typically other benefits as well, depending on the features offered by any given vendor.

Capabilities between vendors can differ substantially. For example, Panzura offers more capabilities than file-to-object translation and cloud gateways, such as its AI-driven, multicloud data-management platform. Whether that’s an advantageous extension of capabilities or expensive overkill is a matter of perspective. Also vying for market share are specialists Talon, Nasuni and Avere.

Ctera's John Williams

Ctera’s John Williams

Ctera primarily offers file-to-object translation and cloud gateways. The software is capable of caching active data on premises and shifting colder data (older or less used files) to the cloud for storage. Features and capabilities entail data authentication, orchestration, synchronization, sharing and translating data from file to object formats. Customers have a choice of cloud gateway appliances: their own hardware or appliances that come preloaded with the software.

John Williams, SVP and general manager, North America, at Ctera, spoke to Channel Partners about the company’s offerings and partner strategy.

Channel Partners: Tell us what customers love about your product or service. What’s the secret selling sauce?

John Williams: Our platform enables Ctera partners to launch, sell and manage a wide variety of cloud file services offerings. From office next-generation NAS to file sync and share/collaboration to backup and data tiering/archiving, Ctera’s versatile platform is very attractive to VARs, SIs and MSPs seeking to offer cloud file services with repeatable and predictable revenue streams.

CP: Describe your channel program — metal levels, heavy on certifications, open or selective, unique features?

JW: The Ctera Cloud Accelerator Channel Program is a comprehensive channel-enablement vehicle that provides all the right resources and marketing funds to help our partners transition their businesses to the cloud opportunity. We have three program tiers – premier, authorized and registered – with associated discounts, incentives and training levels. The program is open to all resellers. It also includes expanded channel sales-support resources, formal technical training and certification, an online partner portal for training, lead sharing, deal registration and marketing funds.

CP: Quick-hit answers: Percentage of sales through the channel, number of partners, average margin. Go.

JW: Two-hundred fifty partners in North America,100 percent channel-driven.  Margin 30 percent plus.

CP: Do you work with any master agents or distributors now? Is so, which ones, and if not, do you expect to establish these relationships?

JW: We work with Arrow, SHI, Tech Data, and many regional VARs.

CP: Who are your main competitors, and what makes your offering better?

JW: Because Ctera offers a wide range of file services, we compete with a larger number of vendors than most. But we most often see …

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