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Interview: Aruba’s NZ country manager talks channel strategy

09 Nov 2018

SD-WAN and network infrastructure provider Aruba is making strides in increasing its market share in New Zealand.

For 2019, it’s looking at expanding its New Zealand team and focusing on tackling opportunities in the market.

Techday caught up with Aruba New Zealand country manager Andrew Fox about challenges in growing the channel presence and Aruba’s latest security offering.

What are Aruba’s plans for the APAC region coming up?

We've enjoyed a year of strong growth, especially in the last two years, faster than the market, so our main priority right now is to maintain that.

We’ve got some great new ideas and solutions we're taking to market that seem to suit our market size, so we're hoping that getting that message out there will resonate with the Kiwis. 

So far, our momentum has been great, we’re ahead of the pack right now in NZ, and we're hoping to continue that.

What are some of the things Aruba is working on that you're most excited about?

The first one is that we have recently announced an SD-Branch solution, so that is basically partially solving the SD-WAN connectivity problem. 

But more exciting for me at the same time as doing that - fixing the branch - is that it enables a customer with multiple branches to manage gateways across the WAN, switches, policy, security, from a single point in our cloud. 

New Zealand, especially, is a very branch-heavy market - we've got lots of distributor businesses there.

The second thing I'm really excited about is the 360 Secure Fabric. 

That was off the back of the purchase of Niara, which became the product that we now call IntroSpect. 

It's a user entity and behavioural analytics (UEBA) product, and that's exciting because up until now we have had a story around network access control and policy-based security, and that's ClearPass. 

That resonates in the New Zealand market because we're very security-conscious.

Previously, a customer user can connect to the network with good credentials on a good machine and gain access but once they're on the network, they can kind of do anything they like, to a point.

Discovering that they were up to no good or that they'd clicked on a bad link or something like that was really, really difficult.

What IntroSpect enables us to do is take this view of the entire network and look at people's behaviour and identify if any of the behaviour is unusual, or out of the norm and flag it and do something about it.

In the New Zealand market, that sort of closed-loop story really resonates.

So yes, I can find a problem, but I can also do something about it in real-time.

I think people are finally waking up to the fact that they need to do something about this

What's the initial feedback you've received from the New Zealand market?

So we've sold our first three SD-Branch deals in New Zealand.

So that's a validation of the message.

What we're taking to market is that message around simplification and having everything in one place, but in New Zealand, we're lucky to have better broadband than most for a cheaper price than most, especially compared to Australia, and so we're enabling customers to make choices about whether they need expensive, legacy MPLS networks, or whether they can replace those with multiple UFB connections, so there's some great economics in there for customers.

And the savings that are being generated, in some cases, are funding the refresh of the branches and access points as well, so it's a really good business case for a customer. 

What are the biggest challenges you’re facing in building Aruba’s channel presence?

Aruba has been a New Zealand for a while, but really, we doubled the size of our team over the last three years.

For a long time, we just weren't talking to enough partners, we weren't getting the message out there.

We had a fantastic story, but no one knew it.

So all the focus in the last two years has been about telling a story about recruiting partners, making sure they understand what we do, understand why the customers might care about that.

We’re focusing on partner enablement and on making sure that everything we do is hand-in-hand with the channel.

We’re happy to hold hands and call on customers, along with our partners and make sure that the outcome is good, and that does differentiate us.

99.9% of our growth is thanks to channel and distribution and a great team.

That's a really good message for the channel, because they don't wonder whether I'm going to cut their lunch and go direct, because it's not something we do.

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