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Three Ways Thoughtful Partners Drive Mutual Success

Jeff McCullough

Partnering is a powerful way to build profitable revenue models and add value to customers by bringing the expertise of multiple organizations together. It’s also how NetApp has stayed at the forefront of data storage solutions that are helping other organizations transform their business.

One of the main reasons I came to NetApp was the company’s amazing partner program, and its long history of meaningful collaboration. In successful partnerships, each party brings their own expertise to complement their partner’s capabilities and create a complete value chain. NetApp’s approach to partnering with other leading technology companies provides our customers with top-tier solutions that are stronger than what we could deliver alone.

Unfortunately, the road to great partnerships is littered with casualties, and many companies don’t get it right. Here are the three lessons we’ve built our partner program on at NetApp:

1. Partner for the right reasons

Sometimes partnerships are created out of necessity, and that doesn’t always lead to success. As Adrian Bridgwater recently wrote in Forbes, partnerships are often forged to build bridges between competing technologies that need to work together. That approach solves an immediate problem, but it doesn’t provide a foundation for co-creating things that those very same customers might value beyond meeting an urgent need.

In my experience, the best partnerships are forged from positivity, not from crisis. As the leader in cloud data services and the data authority for hybrid cloud, NetApp has designed partner programs that include implementation, professional, and support services that our partners can leverage to extend their reach and increase revenue in market changing opportunities, like Cloud and Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure. NetApp is investing ahead of the curve, creating new routes to market for these solutions, along with partner programs that differentiate a partner’s capabilities in these emerging areas.

2. Partner for the long term

Like any relationship, a successful partner arrangement is based on trust, and that takes time to build. As a result, partnerships that are only seeking short-term results often end in disappointment.

The most effective partner relationships happen when both sides go in with a long-term perspective. That’s why our comprehensive partner programs provide vital business development resources, including sales, marketing, and technical resources, to help our partners reach their goals. Each of those elements is supported with education and enablement tools to help partners get the most from their relationship with us in the long term.

3. Partner to achieve specific goals

In any endeavor, having specific measurable goals will help keep you on track. The same is true for partnering. Defining goals and being clear about who will contribute what will help both sides feel that their investment is worthwhile.

Our new partner guide is our latest tool to help ensure that everyone maximizes what they can achieve by partnering with NetApp. The guide outlines the benefits of partnering with NetApp, describes the tools and resources you can access as a NetApp partner, and identifies the concrete steps new partners can take to get started. The guide sets out the framework we have created to provide a consistent and predictable way of doing business with NetApp, so that we all grow and thrive.


The power of NetApp’s partner program comes from the combination of these three things, underpinned by the basic philosophy that we can achieve more by working together.

I have been thrilled to see what NetApp’s partners have achieved, and I am incredibly proud that we are helping our partners transform their businesses by making the transition to cloud.

As we enter 2019, NetApp continues to invest in the partner program, and we also continue to invest in technology solutions that will help our partners and our customers thrive in an evolving IT landscape.

I encourage all of our partners to download our new Partner Enablement Guide. If you aren’t a partner yet, I encourage you to consider becoming one. Visit our partner page to learn more.

Jeff McCullough

Jeff McCullough leads the Americas Partner Sales organization for NetApp. In this capacity, he is responsible for a $3B indirect channel and the teams working with NetApp’s partners throughout the countries of the Americas. He also leads the Americas Virtual Sales organization, which is responsible for NetApp’s inside sales and demand generation for the Americas. Prior to this role, Jeff worked at Quest Software as the Vice President of Americas Channel Sales. Focusing on working with partners in the Americas, driving joint business growth and service customers of all sizes. In this role, Jeff lead an aggressive expansion of channel VAR and Distribution partners in North America and Latin America. Before joining Quest Software Jeff was Vice President of Channel Strategy and SMB Sales at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Jeff also held various senior leadership roles, including Senior Director of the Americas HP Storage Business Unit product management and marketing Organization, where Jeff’s team was responsible for the marketing and business management of HP’s $1B+ Storage business in the US, Canada, and Latin America. McCullough received a BA from Marquette University. He resides with his family outside of Chicago, Illinois.

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