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Partners urge Commvault to tackle pricing stigma

Channel players say the firm must work harder to shake its reputation for having complicated and expensive tech

Despite a slew of branding and channel changes in the last six months, one of the biggest barriers that resellers of Commvault's technology face is the connotation that it is "complicated and expensive".

The firm's newly-appointed CEO Sanjay Mirchandani has used the company's annual flagship conference to 'myth-bust' the notion that Commvault's products are complex, suggesting sophisticated work has been done on this front to improve functionality and the user experience.

Speaking with Channel Pro, however, resellers have urged the company to do far more on simplification, and on messaging, to tackle the connotations that its products are expensive against those offered by rival vendors.

"Sanjay yesterday mentioned in the partner keynote was debunking that myth that Commvault is complex," Softcat solution architect Andrew Cochrane said. "I would add to that, Commvault is complex and costly."

"Because pretty much anytime it comes up in conversation with a customer, that's the first thing I'm met with... So, for me, however that would happen, whether it's through marketing or something, Commvault needs to actually get rid of that stigma."

Cochrane added he has his own ways of countering that argument, but the greatest help Commvault could offer is preparing more guidance or methods to help resellers address these concerns when they're encountered during the sales process.

Commvault underwent a major change in leadership earlier this year, with Mirchandani replacing former CEO Bob Hammer, who led the company for more than 20 years. The firm, however, must still overcome negative connotations with regards to the complexity and cost of its tech, which its new leadership is aiming to counter.

The company has also recently hired new channel leaders with the appointments of Mercer Rowe as head of global channel and alliances, and Edison Peres, who will serve as a strategic advisor. This is in addition to a shakeup of the channel strategy instigated in July.

"We're a sophisticated product that does a lot of things for our customers," Mirchandani said in his keynote address. "And over the years we've given you more and more and more technology - but we've also taken a step back and heard your feedback."

He added in a press roundtable the notion that his products are complicated is "the old Commvault", insisting the "new Commvault" is "super easy to use."

The stigma around cost, however, is one that is being felt by partners to varying degrees. Chris Kiaie, founder and MD of MSP Orium told Channel Pro some of the prior price books and licensing models may have been perceived as expensive, but in reality, confusion was the larger issue.

"Commvault will categorically have to package the messaging up," he said, adding he'd like to see the company continue to improve on the guidance offered to channel partners. However, many of the recent product launches, including Metallic, feature simplified pricing models that will work to counter the connotations, he observed.

"What we'd like to see them execute on - and at least as far as I can see, this is the only way they can achieve sustainable scalable growth - is to grow through the channel," he continued.

"Scale through the channel. Leveraging through the channel. Enriching their businesses. Making them profitable. And I think that's the way to do it."

Asked whether this meant empowering the channel to a much greater degree than under previous strategies, Kiaie added: "I think more coherent. Not necessarily greater; yes greater interaction, but more well-put-together."

Representatives from COOLSPIRiT, meanwhile, have suggested Commvault's issues around messaging around complexity and cost could be helped by refining its strategy to focus through working with more specialist partners.

Instead of selling through any partner, a more restricted pool with greater expertise could help to fight connotations around legacy, cost and complexity as the resellers would be able to address the points in a much more concise way.

Moreover, the company needs to adopt a longer-term view of its channel strategy, and commit to a model for growth without making several minor tweaks around the edges, the partners indicated.

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