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Episode 42 of The Andy Show

Episode 42 of The Andy Show

NICKY PENNYCOOK [00:00:21] Hello and welcome to today’s Andy Show, I’m your host again, Nicky Pennycook. Today is Wednesday, the 17th of June. I hope your having a good week so far. Not too bad here, weather-wise today. So today, we’re joined by a vendor. My guess is John Mitchell. He’s the Senior Director of EMEA Channel Sales at Gigamon. And welcome, John.

JOHN MITCHELL [00:00:51] Hi, Nicky. Pleased to meet you.

NICKY PENNYCOOK [00:00:53] And you, how are you doing?

JOHN MITCHELL [00:00:55] Very good. Thank you very much. Looking forward to this.

NICKY PENNYCOOK [00:00:58] It’s good. So we’re going to jump straight in and we’ll just start by, if you could introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about Gigamon and your role there.

JOHN MITCHELL [00:01:08] Okay. So, hi, everybody. My name is John Mitchell, I’m Senior Director for EMEA Channel Sales at Gigamon, I’ve been in I.T. for about 29 years. Quite a long time, sitting not change. I worked at various and net channel organisations at various companies like Pulse Secure, Brocade, Juniper and other places like that. I work at Gigamon, and Gigamon finds itself in a very interesting time. Obviously, COVID and the lockdown has changed most people’s attitude to technology. Gigamon, founded in 2004, IPO 2013 makes sense with an IPO and then got taken private again in the end of 2017. As an organisation our technology allows pervasive visibility for data motion across all environments, be that on prem or more so towards Cloud and hybrid technologies. And I think it’s really important that Gigamon got a really important use case today. As businesses are looking to kind of get back up to speed and move forward in this uncertain times. The ability for technology to allow you to run fast a security innovate is, you know, is something that most partners and newly customers should really look at as they build digital transmission strategies.

NICKY PENNYCOOK [00:02:31] All right. Thank you for that, John. So I’m going to get some questions for you here. So we’re gonna dive straight in. You’ve kind of touched upon the subject a little bit just then. Obviously, we’re in a very strange time, we’re on lockdowns and businesses have stopped working. People working from home. But obviously now some people who are starting to go back to work and go back to the office and all those different things. How is the I.T. and network infrastructure against changes businesses pertains to work.

JOHN MITCHELL [00:03:03] Okay. Well, I think before I answer that, you know, we’ve got to talk about what the actual changes were previously. Months ago, we’re enforced, we couldn’t socialise. We couldn’t pretty much leave our house apart from one part or exercise. And I guess if you’re in various other countries, around  do that exercise. So businesses have always had a form of work from home. Well, they haven’t have the ability to be entirely to suddenly work from home. And that put a lot of strain, a lot of stress under or on infrastructures, I.T. budgets and human beings. And let’s face it, you know, we are a human being. The strength of an organisation, so the weak link as well. And you know, trying to do a job at a time that’s uncertain at a time that your home schooling kids, at the time that you’re not used to dialling into a VPN for a lot of people was difficult. And you add in, people and malicious actors trying to take advantage of this uncertainty. You have a recipe for but not a good environment for people mentally and from a work productivity perspective. And so, that has kind of been unwinding and customers, partners have been trying to understand what the right approaches is there. We saw a massive increase in VPN traffic now going from the LAN to the WAN. We saw, video collaboration. We’re very much like this Zoom and MS Teams. People having to communicate via a glass screen rather than going into the office. And all of that. In my mind, I’ve spoken to a number of customers, partners led to a kind of an optimisation stage where they were just trying to do more with what they already had. Okay. And customers with I’ve spoken to that were already. Already had taken on as a part of their technology. Really appreciated the visibility and the access to control, manage and see what’s happening on their network. And I think as we move forward. Network monitoring, network visibility is now actually not a nice to have part technology is an absolute essential element for anybody who’s kind of digital transformation strategy moving forward. Not as fast forward to kind of the question, people are thinking about returning to work. I think what the past 3 months have allowed us to understand about big business is to understand is the bright technology. We don’t necessarily have to drive down the M4, up the M1 or wherever our communities is to go into work to be productive. Although we do yearn to meet face to face with the right technology, businesses can drive productivity gains, can still do the work that their employees need to do on a day to day basis remotely. And as our things return to work, the situation we’re in now is the new normal, right? It’s not really the new tomorrow, yhe news where I was yesterday. Right. This form of home collaboration, Zoom, VPN increased, WAN and LAN applications being kind of prioritised. So allow us to do what we want to do is really key. And customers are still trying to find their way in this environment. And if your customer kinda, is looking to digitally transform or looking to go from a few of your employees, working from home, to everybody, you need some advice. You’re a little bit scared, you’ve got infrastructure that may be antiquated out of date. Now, you need some assistance from a partner that perhaps is digitally savvy to tell you where you need to go. And all of these things are concerning. And although, COVID and the lockdown enforced optimisation. I think we’ve got a real strong opportunity as we return to work to kind of innovate. And people or customers that are looking, I guess the benefit of this work from home efficiency, greater utilisation of the network, you gonna make that a long term strategy. And understanding what’s on your network and having visibility of data is crucial for that long term strategy to be implemented and to work as they want it to work.

NICKY PENNYCOOK [00:08:08] So obviously, things were changing. They had changed and they had to change that again. How can companies maintain that performance and also security in the current economic climate as we go forward?

JOHN MITCHELL [00:08:25] I think we need to understand what companies want before I can answer that question. And whereas before I think the key business goal was kind of continuity. I mean, if I’m in the office, next minute, I work from home. Customers need to do more of less. There is a lot of spend that customers have had to do on projects to remain an ongoing concern, to remain kind of practical with the employees. Perhaps they will focus on budget this year. So any organisation will bend up that could allow them to drive an hour away an existing investment. I think, it is a strong play. Any partner that has taken other customers through this journey into a place that’s more kinda digitally aligned or savvy, are partner that I would be speaking to. So I think we’ve gone from the continuity phase to kind of innovating the network. The digital transformation isn’t just about technology, okay? It plays a crucial part. But if I’m a partner and I’m having a conversation with the customer, I’m asking them where they see their business going? And I’d say, do you want a trip to digitally transform? Do you want Gigamon? Do you want any other technology? Because, you know, until you understand what kind of outcome is that they’re desiring. You don’t know necessarily what the solution is. The plan is needed to be agile enough to understand the customer’s requirements, which may have been different before COVID and now completely different post COVID. And they need to understand that customers have less budget. They even have less resources to implement that budget. People may be furloughed. People might be ill through COVID. People may be kind of having to stay away from people for 14 days longer, etc., So, a decent partner is somebody that can take their customers on that journey and appreciate, and are aware of what their customer wants to do. So I think innovation is good. I think it’s absolutely critical that they understand what’s happening on the network. Absolutely critical that they are able to react to any security breach. And I think, if you know, if we look at what is the call for innovation moving forward. And I think that really great comes down to a sound network, visibility, strategy and relationship, whether that’s as some form of MSP or just, you know, direct relationship with a partner and a better choice.

NICKY PENNYCOOK [00:11:29] You mentioned digital transformation there. Obviously, business are probabaly taking a step back. Take a step back. More than ever when it comes to their business priorities at the moment and really thinking about what they are. Do you think digital transformation is going to be one of them? Do you think that’s going to take a backseat?

JOHN MITCHELL [00:11:51] I mean, digital transformation is not new. I’m not the first guy talking about this information. It’s been around for a number of years. Well, I do think the current climate has enabled, it’s an absolute acceleration of, you know what? I have a different way of working. I need that flexibility, the agility, the digital transformation is meant to provide. Cloud it’s a core pillar of any digital transformation strategy. And Cloud is associated with a kind of flexibility, agility and the enablement of employees to do what they do in different environments. So I think more so now digital transformation is really relevant. I think that’s really quite exciting. More consume data differently. Whether we’re a consumer at home or by running business, this applications allow us to communicate, to do and live our lives. And so, companies that have a savvy digital transformation strategy or on the journey on in the Cloud, I think we’re in a good place. Those companies are potentially put that off. Need to catch up. I think they need to catch up quickly. We’re in, we’re in a recession, right? And this is worse than 2009. We’re in a recession. What we saw in 2008 was companies that continued to invest, came out of the recession stronger. I don’t think companies that kind of continue to invest in these difficult times. We’ll get back to growth and be more viable and flow quicker through the move towards dumping down digital transformation strategy. And I kinda said in an answer earlier, it’s not just about technology. It’s true transformation is about enabling myself to “office”, about creating and providing services for their customers. What’s more important, thankfully, in Gigamon we’re very employee first type of organisation. And if you look at digital transformation, millennials, of which I am not quite clear on what we call case “that come to you”. We don’t go to work in an environment that is still stuck in the 80s. I love the 80s but not for some people and kind of, you know, through the 2000s up. Where technology, it never left that part. You know, it’s never left the hand, it’s a part of who they are and what they do. And I think digital transformation is about being a cool company to work at so you can attract the top talent. And as they keep saying. To be digitally savvy, you need to know what’s going on your network. So visibility, you should be pervasive and it’s absolutely crucial. If you look at companies today, struggling with how to get out to return to work. So get back to a return to work strategy. Though, now as it sounds digital transformation strategy. How are they facilitating telecommuting? Okay? How they’re driving virtual collaboration, which is absolutely critical now on 6 or 7 Zoom call at night. You know, those companies will see a productivity hit which they really need to be aware of. And they need partners to help them through that.

NICKY PENNYCOOK [00:15:31] That leads me very nicely on to my next question about partners. So what is the role of those channel partners in enabling digital transformation?

JOHN MITCHELL [00:15:43] So firstly, I think partners need to understand technology, okay? Any company that is looking to go on this journey, they don’t want the parliament to learn at the same time that they’re learning, okay? They’re looking for some level of confidence. They look for some reference ability, that the partner has put together what they believe is the right path for businesses and it changes. Their overall they’ve got to have a defined digital transformation strategy. The problem is before that, I didn’t think visibility was part of that. You know, we all speak to more and more of those. And they’re saying, you know what? We’re buying into what you’re doing as a company, Gigamon and the space that you’re in. I wanna know more about how we can transform our partners there. They need to be a business aware. And like any sales cycle, they need to go back to the customer and just say, where are you now? Where do you want to go? Let me understand what positive business outcome is for you. Should we go on this path? And then they have to have a portfolio, I believe, that covers his best, best in class for the various elements are digitally transformed kind of environment. In Gigamon, we work with a number of tools within this space. Many of the Cloud vendors Azure to AWS, to Google Cloud. We’ve worked with people like VMware, we work with people like Nutanix. And so we or other Cloud platforms “while ours accept that we” will have a positive and proactive technology relationship with those people. So adding Gigamon should be a relatively smooth and beneficial element of any partners kind of conversation with the customer that says I want to go towards being more digitally aligned. And ultimately, it all comes down to ROI, if a customer is proven on the ROI and then invest in that quick up. If they’re not, then they won’t. And I believe that Gigamon has shown through many customers that we have, pre-COVID and many customers that we are generating now and will generate tomorrow, that we can drive ROI on our equipment and pay back very quickly. And also, we can drive ROI on existing infrastructure, which is, you know, that is a strong, strong you go and speak to the customer and you say you happy with your tools? I don’t think there’s any that go yeah fantastic. We will go, you know what? I would really like greater utilisation of those tools. I don’t have the budget to add more technology. I just keep adding technology. I need to get more from these existing infrastructure investments I’ve made. Gigamon can really help them. Or if they’re looking to make an investment, that investment, plus Gigamon, normally equals more than just an investment in a bespoke told.

NICKY PENNYCOOK [00:18:59] Absolutely, and just like going back to the current situations and things like that. How are you finding out? Do you think people are looking at perhaps their I.T. infrastructure as a bit more at the moment? Or do you think it sort of come down is probably not the right way. But obviouly, people have had to adapt and they’ve had to change. And people working from home, and not in the office. How was that affected you, yourself a such of?

JOHN MITCHELL [00:19:30] So what I think we’re saving and lots of other vendors are saying is customers are borders because they had enough of those. There are also bored with hundreds of emails every day saying I can help you in COVID. I believe they’re also pretty bored with having phone calls from people saying, you know, we have technology that can assist you. So what we’re saying and we’ve been through all of these cycles, no, we don’t have none of the bugdet, I don’t know Gigamon etc. But what we’re saying is, if you can really resonate with the customer, tell them kinda where they can go. They happy to take call with you. One of the metrics that we use on a quarterly basis is a new logo metric. It’s not unique to Gigamon. But we have this kind of customer relationship where we generally sell an initial value. And then because the customer sees the value of Gigamon, they’ll add more tools “or into” Cloud or they just keep, keep growing. And this quarter, you know, our new logo account, which is one customers never bought Gigamon before. It is up quarter over quarter. It is up year over year. So I think our message is resonating. You do have to come across differently from other vendors because “pretty down there” is immense. But, you know, I think as a company we’re quite robust in what we do. As I said to you, customers are looking for ROI. You can drive ROI in your equipment and if you can drive ROI multiple other technologies and you can prove that for them to go where they want to go in the digital world, in a Cloud hosted world. Gigamon is essential then that I think that’s good and that’s kind of where we’re at the moment. Doesn’t mean, it doesn’t going to be bumpy moving forward. One of the Gigamon does really well as we enable our channel. And we consistently enable our own internal sales and SC workforce. So we know that we’re always trying to look into the customer’s eyes and think on the customer’s point of view.

NICKY PENNYCOOK [00:21:56] And we were having a little chat beforehand and you told me one of the things you’re up to personally and it would be really nice just to end up with what you’ve been doing “the rest in” lockdown as well.

JOHN MITCHELL [00:22:08] So yes it’s a quite joy to slow kind of pace, you know? Before lockdown, I was on 3 or 4 flights every week. Now there’s walk downstairs going to my office. And a team of 6 or 7 Zoom calls, right? Some many other things. Clearly “you need a doctor”, medical help is an important thing ringht now. Some of the other things I’m doing, is I do a lot of exercise because of my age, “in other words, I became braver”. So I’m a big fan of dance music and I used to do “journey” in early 90s and now I’ve gone back to doing some of that, so every Monday. I’m gonna pluck IBM- i, “I make my” host on mixed Cloud and it’s “J FM, The Claw version 1, 2, 3 and 4” so anybody out that it is in good old music. Go listen, I do it for my own benefit. “I’m selflesly blocking it” because I do enjoy that. And so hopefully somebody else would as well. That’s what I’m getting up to.

NICKY PENNYCOOK [00:23:16] That’s absolutely great, John. Thank you so much for joining me today. That’s been really insightful and really smooth.

JOHN MITCHELL [00:23:27] Thank you Nicky.

NICKY PENNYCOOK [00:23:27] And that was Johm Mitchell from Gigamon. Talking a lot about so different I.T. infrastructures and how digital transformation is going on. So that’s the end of the Andy Show. If you yourself would like to get involved and be like John as our guest in the show. You can contact us through our website in or you can contact us for any of our social media channels such Disruptive Live. See tomorrow.