Partner programs are the glue that binds IT vendors and the channel

Some of the IT industry’s biggest vendors have launched major overhauls and expansions to their partner programs in recent months, including cloud platform giant Amazon Web Services, chipmaker AMD, computer systems Dell Technologies and Lenovo, and software and cloud giant Microsoft.

While these and other recent launches of new and updated IT vendor partner programs differ in detail, there are several common themes among the announcements: simplifying partner engagement, supporting evolving types of partners, provide partner training and certification in new technologies, help channel partners adapt to new customer buying practices, such as service as a service, and create new ways for partners to increase their recurring revenue.

Dell, for example, recently launched a new partner program for its fiscal year 2023 that brings together solution providers, cloud service providers and OEMs; offers new incentives aimed at increasing partner profitability in midrange storage, client systems and VMware solutions; seeks to drive sales as a service, streamlines the Partner Experience Center and online systems configurator, and invests more in the channel than in fiscal 2022.

“We have a robust reseller ecosystem operating in a traditional investment model that currently has impeccable momentum. We have emerging and evolving partners that co-engineer around OEM, edge, and telecom. These partners positioned us for the future,” Rola Dagher, Global Channel Manager, Dell Technologies, told CRN in February. “We have partners that were delivering managed services with Dell infrastructure long before service-as-a-service. service becomes cool. And those are the partners that we see providing far more value than just shifting and lifting.”

Data integration and analytics platform developer Qlik has spent 2021 realigning its channel operations and updating its partner program to support the company’s shift to a software-as-a-service model.

“2021 was all about enabling partners to build profitable and thriving recurring revenue businesses on our cloud platform, and I’m proud of our successes in this area,” said Poornima Ramaswamy, Executive Vice President of Global Partnerships at Qlik. . “We continued to build momentum behind our SaaS focus to completely modernize our partner program, which now includes a dedicated track for cloud services. emphasis on a co-selling model based on recurring revenue and customer lifecycle, which is how customers want to consume through the cloud.

AWS unveiled a major overhaul to its partner program in November, including the introduction of five partner journeys to streamline the program, simplify engagement, and expand partner access to benefits. AMD launched a new partner program in February with aggressive discounts for vendors of commercial systems. And last year, Cisco Systems launched the most significant changes to its partner program structure in more than a decade, with greater emphasis on lifecycle, managed services, and all-in-one opportunities. as a service.

Some IT companies have spent the last year implementing partner program changes and reaping the benefits of those changes. Juniper Networks has seen partner-initiated business grow 110% in the year since November 2020, when the company unveiled a plan at its Partner Summit to invest heavily in the channel.

“We’ve been on a journey with the partners,” chain chief Gordon Mackintosh told CRN in November of Juniper’s 2021 efforts. partners have asked for is more investment, joint investment and alignment with Juniper to work more closely with us than ever before.

At OpsRamp, a developer of IT operations management tools, channel manager Paul Brodie oversaw a major overhaul of the company’s channel program in 2021. “We had a partner program, but it was a sort of table stakes and we had to do a refresh,” said Brodie, who became vice president of global channel sales earlier in the year.

San Jose, Calif.-based OpsRamp, which sells 100% through the channel, updated its partner program to offer what the company described as “a more partner-friendly profit-sharing model,” as well as improved lead sharing, more comprehensive sales support. , and other resources.

It’s not just major vendors that have recently embarked on partner program initiatives. Multi-cloud networking startup Prosimo launched its inaugural partner program in January, while cloud security firm Netskope did the same in March. IT infrastructure automation company Puppet launched a new skills-based partner program in January with the aim of empowering its 200 global partners to be more competitive.

IT vendors rely on partners to expand their market reach, while solution providers rely on vendors for the IT products and related services their customers demand. Partner programs are the glue that holds these relationships together.

The directory

The Partner Program Guide is based on detailed applications submitted by IT companies (more than 300 this year) outlining all aspects of their distribution programs. The full list of partner programs is available here.

The Channel Company’s research team analyzes the applications and designates some of the programs as 5 Stars, an elite subset of partner programs with exemplary overall ratings, providing the incentives, resources and support that partners distribution companies need to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace.

5-star criteria include partner incentives, margins and discounts, partner profitability, sales and marketing support, and availability of subscription and consumption-based pricing. Criteria also include sales lead availability, deal registration, pre- and post-sales support, programs to help partners grow their services, training and education offerings, specialization and certifications. techniques.

Snapshots of the 5-star winners can be found in a series of slideshows, organized by product/technology category, offering information on each company’s partner program and, if applicable, their goals for 2022.

Slideshows include companies that provide products and services for systems and data centers, cloud platforms and infrastructure, networks and unified communications, software, security, devices and peripherals, as well as data storage and backup. While many companies offer products and services that span multiple technologies, we’ve assigned each vendor to the slideshow of the technology category in which they’re most important.

CRN also offers slideshows of 5-star partner programs from emerging distributors and suppliers – startups founded in 2016 or more recently.