NetApp’s Mark Weber on selling to civilian, DoD, and Intel

NetApp is a leading storage provider to the federal government, and Mark Weber is part of the reason why. As president and general manager for NetApp’s U.S. Public Sector (which includes federal, state and local, and K-12), Mark Weber helps steer the data management company toward greater heights.  “Not only do we sell storage, we offer value added software that manages all of that data, says Weber. “To be number one you have to be selling into civilian, DOD and Intel … we do very well on all fronts,” he says. Here Mark Weber shares a few of his best practices and also weighs in on green initiatives.

You are obviously in a very competitive space, what is your basic approach to business?

Mark Weber: We believe that we are a piece of the IT solution.  When you sell one piece of the business, which in our case is storage, you’ve got to have a lot of “friends” —there are servers, there’s integration and there are a lot of other pieces to the solution. It’s all about partners and delivering those products to the end customers.  We create the demand at the end-user level; so our go-to market approach is not just to have our partners create the demand.  We also have 70 sales reps who are tasked with creating the demand with the end user team.
What’s your biggest challenge in business today?

Mark Weber: When you have explosive growth — which we’ve had for five years — the question becomes: How do you keep that momentum going?  We’ve overcome a lot of challenges because of our value proposition. People have to do more with their IT dollars and that’s our value proposition — to do more with less.  So it works out very nicely when you’ve got a great value proposition like that.  Dollars matter now more than ever.

What trends will impact your customers over the next 12 to 18 months?

Mark Weber: “Green” initiatives — that’s one of the biggest trends out there at this time.  Also deduplication of data, there’s a lot of data out there and people store it many, many times. We are investing in IT software to address that issue. Deduplication helps customers use less storage – if we help a customer use less storage our value proposition as a company is stronger.

Can you tell us a little more about other “green” initiatives?

Mark Weber: The “green” initiative is like a recipe to us.  It’s not just about using less power, there’s a whole stack of elements that contribute to a “green” environment.  For instance, the average customer uses only about 30 percent of the storage that they have and the rest is considered just white space – it’s just waiting to be filled up.  The average NetApp customer uses about 70 percent of storage space because of the way our software allows you to store data. You also have fewer disc drives required, hence you use less power.  So that is just one example of how being “green” works if your software is done right. The other example that we are investing in a lot is deduplication. What happens if you have 10 copies of the same data? It’s not very efficient. So if you can dedupe that — take off your multiple copies but still appear to have them on there by using deduplication software — that’s going to lead to less spinning of the disc, less power usage.

What will your business unit look like in two years?

Mark Weber:
I think it will look more balanced.  In the last four or five years we have invested heavily in the federal government.  We were a smaller player four years ago and we’ve risen to be a major player in the storage industry.  State and local – we’ve just started that initiative as of last May.  Before then, we were doing very little in state and local and I think this year we’ll grow substantially. Also, if you look two or three years from now our state and local business will catch up with our federal business because of the size of the investment we are making in it.

Most people know you are a big family guy.  How do you maintain balance between family and work?

Mark Weber: Work-life balance is not just about Mark Weber, it’s about our company. We have been ranked as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” in the United States by Fortune Magazine for six consecutive years. We think if you’ve got a great balance you’re going to be a better employee.  That said, I don’t live that philosophy because I work at NetApp – I live that because that’s who I am. If you’ve got five kids and you can’t figure out how to balance your life out you’re in trouble.  Plus I have a lot of other passions other than work; I love to coach for example.  Selling is like coaching people every day but coaching kids is a lot of fun too.

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Interview with Mark Weber was conducted by JD Kathuria

Read more interviews here: http://blog.executivebiz.com/category/interviews/

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