Storage vendor NetApp has announced a number of significant changes to its channel program to simplify rebates and ensure that partners of all types, even those without a traditional hardware focus, can benefit.
NetApp is not rolling out a new channel program but is instead expanding and simplifying its existing one to make it easier for partners to differentiate themselves and get the benefits regardless of their business types, said Chris Lamborn, NetApp's senior director of global channel strategy and programs.
"Simplicity will be huge," Lamborn told CRN USA. "There's a lot of complexity out there."
The changes drive for consistency around NetApp's go-to-market activities related to hybrid cloud, partner-led services, and partner rewards and levels, Lamborn said.
"We want partners to not be afraid of what customers are buying," he said. "We want to make sure they benefit regardless of what they buy."
The first big change to the partner program is to ensure that partners get paid automatically when bringing in new business, Lamborn said.
"We will be paying partners automatically every time the partner sells into a new customer or increases its footprint in existing partners," he said. "We'll cut a check. There's no need to apply. We're still working with a new business cap benefit of US$220,000. We're just making it easier for partners."
The second change is how NetApp will bring on new partners by shifting from a focus on the company's Ontap-based products, Lamborn said.
"Now partners can join the program with a focus on cloud solutions, or HCI [hyper-converged infrastructure] solutions," he said. "We're starting to appeal to new partners coming into NetApp. Before, we focused on traditional partners. We are no longer looking at how partners label themselves. We look at how they sell, and where they sell."
The third change is a new "as-a-service" certification targeting those partners who add services related to NetApp, Lamborn said.
"It's hard for many partners to expand the services business," he said. "So we're supporting them with our services. We'll put NetApp people who came from hyper-scalers or large service providers into accounts to help them build their services business. They came to NetApp to act as a consultancy for partners, including those who are having problems with how to comp reps and charge for services."
The fourth is to increase partner differentiation by introducing a new top tier, the Global Star level partner, Lamborn said.
"These will be highly selected partners with global selling rights and certified across multiple geographies," he said. "We'll work with partners on unique programs for them."
For other solution providers looking to differentiate, NetApp is also adding a new recognition for those who can help customers with digital transformation, Lamborn said.
"We need to identify partners with digital transformation capabilities, recognise them, and differentiate them," he said. "We're adding more trainings and certifications. … But we realise that new capabilities like digital transformation don't just result from single vendors. So we will recognise partners' capabilities, and not just their NetApp capabilities."