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Tenacious approach to Africa’s cloud evolution paid off says Nutanix

Enterprise cloud services company Nutanix believes a careful approach to partnerships and understanding the nuances of Africa’s diverse market have been instrumental in removing misperception of the business, cementing its position and ensuring its growth.

The company is well established and drives hybrid multi-cloud growth across the continent. But it has not been all smooth sailing and it acknowledges its struggle in the early days.

Babatunde Abagun, Channel Sales Manager West, East & Central Africa at Nutanix Sub-Saharan Africa.
Babatunde Abagun, Channel Sales Manager West, East & Central Africa at Nutanix Sub-Saharan Africa.

“When we started in Africa, we were perceived as a startup. There were also misconceptions about our business, and these ranged from Nutanix being a storage company or simply another hypervisor. Some even suggested that the business would eventually be acquired by someone else,” says Babatunde Abagun, Channel Sales Manager West, East & Central Africa at Nutanix Sub-Saharan Africa.

Things were not much better in the channel.

“Potential partners and distributors saw Nutanix as a small, transactional vendor incapable of helping them meet their annual revenue and profit margin targets. While some signed up to partner with Nutanix, they did so only to capitalise on an opportunity. Investing money, time, and other resources in their Nutanix business would only be done sparingly,” says Abagun.

But he adds that much has changed and the company has signed deals across virtually every industry vertical, including financial services, manufacturing, education, oil and gas, and the public sector.

Africa first

Strategic partnership has been a significant part of the Nutanix approach to Africa and a major contributor to its success to date.

“The Nutanix leadership is well acquainted with the unique challenges and opportunities the continent presents. They see the value in supporting the teams on the ground with sponsorships and coaching to maximise how the technology is used on a customer level.”

Furthermore, the business believes in the value of customer-centricity.

“Our priority is always to see our customers drive innovative business ideas using a hybrid multi-cloud platform. For us, it is about having our technology being responsible for helping solve the most pressing socio-economic challenges in Africa while also enabling businesses to thrive despite the economic obstacles that plague the continent.”

Another important factor for Nutanix is that it abhors ‘shelfware’. It goes to great lengths to develop solutions tailored to customers' specific needs regardless of the industry sector. For Nutanix, it is about delivering demonstratable business returns.

Abagun says, “But more than our technology, the human element has been integral to our success. As a business, Nutanix operates with the highest level of transparency and integrity in all our engagements, whether it is with customers or our channel and alliance partners. We have also consistently grown our team with the best talent available in the industry to ensure the skills are in place to deliver on our technology promises.”

Partner support

Of course, Abagun is the first to admit that none of the success would be possible without the support of Nutanix partners.

“Essentially, they are an extension of our team and have been instrumental in providing geographic coverage across the diverse countries and cultures in Africa. Many of our partners are trusted advisors to customers in their different countries. They have leveraged their reputation and credibility in the industry to open doors to enable us to deliver and realise the Nutanix message in customer environments.”

“Our partners have been an invaluable asset to us and have been executing local marketing campaigns and prospecting activities with their customer contacts to enhance the Nutanix brand further. They provide us with invaluable market insights into their local territories to help us strategically tailor our message to business requirements in the region. A far cry indeed from the way Nutanix was seen when we first opened our doors in Africa eight years ago,” concludes Abagun.

This year the company has reaffirmed its expectation of a significant rise in demand for cloud services and increased migration amid rapid digital transformation.

At the company’s .NEXT global virtual event, CEO Rajiv Ramaswami said: "I certainly see South Africa and all of Africa (as) almost virgin territory here in terms of lots of potential opportunity. For us, as a market it is under penetrated, and so we see opportunity. We have a heavy channel partner focus model, we rely a lot on our channel partners, we are focused on enabling our channel partners to become more self-sufficient to be able to deliver solutions."

According to World Wide Worx’s Cloud in Africa 2020 report released in October 2020, 33% of organisations had multiple cloud providers (between two to ten). 69% of respondents claimed to have multiple enterprise agreements with cloud providers.

The report found that Africa’s multi-cloud uptake slightly trails Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) as a whole – F5’s latest State of Application Services report found that 88% of EMEA firms are now leveraging multi-cloud environments. However, the gap is set to close in the coming years as cloud deployments increase in frequency and technical maturity.

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