NEWS Coverage

Data Migration Vendor WANdisco Adopts All-Channel Strategy, Launches First Partner Program

November 05 2020

Distributed computing and data replication technology developer WANdisco is shifting to an all-channel sales model and launching its first partner program, the LiveData Partner Network, the company will announce Thursday.

The moves come as WANdisco and its solution provider partners see significant opportunities to market the company’s software for migrating massive data stores based on Hadoop and other legacy technology to the cloud – a potential addressable market that WANdisco puts at more than $1.7 billion.

“We see this as a significant growth area,” said Alan Grogan, executive leader for data platform modernization at Avanade Europe, which has recently begun working with WANdisco and its software.

“Hadoop is failing to meet a lot of the early expectations. WANdisco is an accelerating technology that we see the value in using to help clients who are currently struggling with – or not getting value out of – Hadoop, to move those workloads they are spending billions on,” Grogan said in an interview with CRN.

WANdisco’s LiveData Cloud Services platform, including LiveData Migrator, provides data replication and migration capabilities that automate the process of moving huge volumes of data – hundreds of terabytes and even multiple petabytes – from on-premises systems to cloud platforms like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services, as well as between cloud platforms within multi-cloud environments.

Following its release in 2006, Hadoop was widely touted as the solution for managing massive volumes of data. More recently businesses and organizations have implemented Hadoop for building data lakes, stores of huge volumes of unorganized data.

But Hadoop has failed to meet many of its original expectations. The technology is complex and requires a team of skilled professionals to manage, Grogan said. The technology doesn’t easily scale and getting data out of Hadoop-based systems for business analytics and other tasks is difficult.

“It doesn’t have the elasticity really needed to meet today’s organizational demands – which cloud offers,” the Avanade executive said. “Your time-to-insight [using data for analytics] is heavily impeded by having Hadoop.”

He said customers move HDFS (Hadoop File System) data and analytic workloads to Azure cloud, often to utilize Microsoft’s Synapse analytics service and the Databricks Unified Data Analytics Platform. “Clients are looking for a lot more operational excellence,” he said.

Tarun Agarwal, data and AI director and practice lead at Motifworks, a cloud solutions provider that’s been working with WANdisco for about six months, tells a similar tale. Motifworks focuses on helping businesses and organizations with their digital transformation initiatives and the Towson, Md.-based solution provider offers WANdisco’s software as part of its AzureSmart package of software and services used to migrate applications, workloads and data to Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.

“Data plays a very important role in digital transformation,” Agarwal said in an interview with CRN. And having that data in on-premises Hadoop systems is hindering digital transformation projects, he said.

“We are looking to migrate our customers away from on-premises Hadoop platforms to cloud-native services,” he said. Noting that such systems often have “multiple hundreds of terabytes, if not multiple petabytes of data,” he added: “To migrate this data into the cloud is a humongous task.”

Such projects generally require lots of custom script development, Agarwal said. The value-proposition for WANdisco’s software is that it automates data migration, freeing up solution providers’ developers for higher-value tasks. “It gives us the technology to migrate the Hadoop data into the Azure cloud platform with zero disruption, with zero data loss and zero maintenance once you set it up,” he said.

Grogan said Avanade, headquartered in Seattle, hears from at least one or two major clients each month with inquiries about migrating Hadoop-based systems. They include leading banks, financial service providers and consumer goods companies. The company, for example, is currently working with a leading European insurance company to move off a system that includes Hadoop and an on-premise data warehouse.

So why the shift to a partner-first strategy for WANdisco? “Data lake migration is a complex problem to solve,” said Peter Scott, WANdisco senior vice president of business development, who is overseeing the channel initiative, in an interview with CRN.

While WANdisco provide services around data migration specifically, cloud migration projects – often part of larger digital transformation initiatives – also involve moving applications and workloads that use the data.

“That’s where the expertise of systems integrators, be they global or regional, and cloud service providers comes in,” Scott said.

Until recently about 90 percent of WANdisco’s sales were direct with the balance through OEMs like IBM. The company has been recruiting partners in recent months, especially systems integrators and strategic service providers, and ramping up sales through ISVs, VARs, solution providers, global and regional systems integrators, consulting companies and cloud service providers. The company expects to eventually have a partner roster numbering in the dozens.

Scott said about 50 percent of today’s sales are partner led and sourced. “And the goal over the next two to three years is to move that as close to 100 percent as possible,” he said. In a few cases customers may continue to buy the company’s software directly through cloud companies’ online marketplaces without further involvement from a partner.

On Thursday WANdisco, which has dual headquarters in Sheffield, U.K., and San Ramon, Calif., will launch the LiveData Partner Network, the company’s first partner program. The three-tiered program will offer a range of sales, marketing, training, certification and support resources – all accessible through a new partner portal.

The tiers include Registered Partners for first-time partners, Solution Partners who develop solutions around the WANdisco tools and “are committed to doing significant business with the company,” the company said in the Thursday announcement provided in advance to CRN. Top-tier Strategic Partners will have “a very high degree of business synergy with WANdisco and have significant presence in multiple geographies.”

Offered training will include instructor-led, on-site and self-paced training, including technical and sales-related training around WANdisco products. The program also provides market development funds and other go-to-market/demand-generation resources, business planning assistance and sales support services.

Scott acknowledge that in the past there has been “competition” between WANdisco’s sales representatives and channel partners. He said the company’s salesforce has been repositioned to work with the channel, essentially working as partner managers or “partner coaches,” with compensation designed to encourage cooperation and avoid channel conflict.

Channel partners are enthusiastic about the program. Grogan said Avanade has been invited to participate at the Strategic Partner level and the company looks forward to “fast start initiatives” through the program to help clients accelerate data migration projects. The executive said Avanade is also developing links between WANdisco’s technical support and its own Azure Data Modernization Center of Excellence.

Motifworks’ Agarwal is looking forward to taking advantage of the program’s joint marketing and co-branding opportunities and the additional technical training and documentation resources. “This is going to be a key partnership for our go-to-market efforts and for our customers,” he said.

“We envision the WANdisco LiveData Partner Network to be the biggest growth driver for the company in 2021, enabling us to quickly expand and scale our business globally,” WANdisco’s Scott said.

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