How SolarWinds is building an observability channel across Asia

How SolarWinds is building an observability channel across Asia

Sandeep Mehra shares why the channel is critical to the software vendor's success.

Sandeep Mehra (SolarWinds)

Sandeep Mehra (SolarWinds)

Credit: SolarWinds

With hybrid cloud now widely considered a top customer priority, organisations are ramping up plans to drive digital transformation initiatives and modernise applications to stay ahead of an increasingly competitive market across Asia Pacific.

However, despite being at varying stages of progress in the journey, the rush to adopt cloud may have resulted in heightened risks with the presence of increasingly complex and diverse infrastructures as well as an overload of data.

According to recent research from O’Reilly Radar -- housing input from more than 1,200 engineers, architects and IT leaders from global companies across multiple industries -- 88 per cent of respondents currently leverage cloud in one form or another.

However, over 90 per cent of organisations are expected to grow usage during the next 12 months, with only 17 per cent of respondents from large organisations of over 10,000 employees indicating they have already fully moved their applications to the cloud.

The figures suggest that the majority of businesses are struggling in their cloud migration journey, which is likely due to the sheer complexity of the process. Also, more than half of the survey respondents indicated that they were using multiple cloud services and have implemented microservices, emphasising the importance of building out hybrid strategies.

Previously, organisations used to solely rely on software monitoring solutions to manage the multiple infrastructures in their system but now vendors are offering observability solutions to provide insights that allow teams better visibility across the full IT stack “for improved and effective analysis and troubleshooting”.

This is something the team at SolarWinds are position to customers across Asia Pacific, shared Sandeep Mehra, director of Channel Sales across APJ.

While there’s been some debate in recent years over the difference between monitoring and observability -- some believe it’s a mere rebranding of the same product -- the team at SolarWinds insist that both play distinct roles in managing hybrid cloud environments.

For one, monitoring is a systematic process of collecting and analysing information such as logs and performance metrics. It helps track errors, identify issues, and send alerts and notifications, and may help teams build an understanding of the “actual state” of the infrastructure and applications.

Meanwhile, observability “goes beyond” monitoring and “expedites problem resolution” by providing insights, automated analytics, and actionable intelligence through the application of cross-domain data correlation, machine learning (ML), and AIOps (artificial intelligence for IT operations) across real-time and historical metrics, logs, and trace data.

SolarWinds’ take on the issue is therefore this: while monitoring helps reactively convey what is happening in the environment based on known problems or patterns from collected data, observability explains ‘the why’ and can go a step further to help solve complex business problems.

Investing in strong channel leadership

This is why to drive their agenda around observability across a diverse region, SolarWinds has ramped up channel investments through the recruitment of Mehra in the newly created channel leader role.

Having joined in February this year, the Singapore-based executive is tasked with growing the software vendor’s regional presence as well as strengthening its ongoing channel strategy.

Mehra told Channel Asia that SolarWinds now boasts a “dedicated team” of channel leaders spread across ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand, India, China, Korea, and Japan.

“That has been a fundamental step forward,” he said. “We’ve now got a team that’s dedicated to the channel. We didn’t have this before.”

Channel falls under “one channel leadership” headed by Dave Cronk, the president of international sales and worldwide channels who is also based in Singapore.

“The only way we can be successful as an organisation is through our channel and that is why we are investing so heavily and will continue investing in the region," Mehra added. “Asia is a long-term play for us. We’re not going to just invest one year and say, ‘well, that’s not really working out’. We’ve been here for 10 years and hopefully we’ll be here for many more decades to come.”

Another part of the expanded team includes the appointment of a channel CTO for APJ, Kevin Lai.

“When I came to this organisation and was asked to shape it, I wanted to ensure that SolarWinds drives value to our end customers with our channel partners,” Mehra explained. “And we wanted to have a channel CTO leading that.”

For Mehra, a channel CTO helps to enable partners to look at customers’ full-stack observability -- the “whole wrap-around” -- including the technology ecosystem, overall architectural play, what it means from a network perspective, as well as from a vendor perspective.

Additionally, the team at SolarWinds is remaining laser focused on supporting partners when managing key customer accounts and driving go-to-market strategies.

Partner role in driving observability

Mehra went on to share that the vendor's increased focus on the regional channel represents a key part of their current business strategy and will be critical in addressing ongoing challenges.

“We’re in a competitive industry and that’s why channel is so important to us,” he said. “We’re a good-sized organisation with a very good brand name, but if we really want to drive the messaging around the value of observability, we need to do that through our channel partners.”

Mehra believes that SolarWinds has everything they need to succeed and sell observability across Asia Pacific except for one thing: sufficient messaging to drive the agenda.

"It’s sort of pointless to have something that’s so great if you don’t have the message out there,” said Mehra.

While the SolarWinds team is always hard at work speaking with customers about the importance of having observability to manage complex hybrid cloud infrastructures, Mehra explained that nothing compares to working with on-the-ground channel partners who play an essential role as force multipliers for the business.

“Our channel partners are our army,” emphasised Mehra. “They’re the ones that can provide that customer enablement and drive the business value of observability. They can then offer it to customers in flexible ways, such as through an OPEX-based or subscription-based model.

“They’re driving the message and vision for SolarWinds with their value add as well. They’re not just being a fulfilment engine, they’re providing a lot of value-added service and that’s what customers are really looking for."

Above all, the plays that SolarWinds has been making recently in Asia have been centred on one thing: promoting observability adoption in a region with high potential for revenue generation.

"We see a massive market here around observability adoption," said Mehra. "Our strategy is very much to invest in this market like expanding in the region -- we have a considerable headcount both in sales, pre-sales and the wider kind of support organisation.

"Also equally important, having a focus around the channel and being dedicated to build and develop the channel because it's our route to market and that is where we see our success being realised in this arena."

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