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Nutanix ditches ‘cumbersome’ partner programme

Nutanix has replaced its partner programme with a paired-down version that rewards competencies over deal volume

Nutanix has announced a complete overhaul of its partner engagement with the vendor bringing all its partners together under a single programme.

Acknowledging the previous programme had become too fragmented as the company had expanded, Nutanix CEO Dheeraj Pandey said it would be “hypocritical” of the firm not to have created a new, simpler version for partners.

“This happens to all growing companies; they have too many of these islands, and we end up creating too many programmes that don’t talk to each other. And it ends up becoming really cumbersome for the partners themselves,” Pandey told Microscope.

“We realised that if it didn’t bring it all together, then it would be hypocritical for us to talk about simplicity and elegant products and have these programmes that are not integrated at all.”

Pandey – who recently announced his departure from the company – said the move “took courage, and a lot of audacity” to unite all partners. Now all partners, including value-added resellers (VARs), global system integrators (GSIs), managed services providers (MSPs), telcos and alliance partners are grouped under a single Elevate programme brand and badging structure.

“Bringing them all into a single platform was an important objective of this,” added Pandey. “There’s many things and many workflows that are common across all of them, and we want to bring it all together with a singular experience.”

Replacing tiers

Nutanix said the new programme represents “a significant double-digit increase” in investment in the channel.

The company is doing away with its previous three-tiered structure of Master, Scaler and Pioneer partners, and replacing them with two new levels.

Master partners will be grandfathered into the new Cloud Campion tier, and will have until 31 July 2021, to obtain any missing technical or services certifications. Scaler Partners will become Cloud Professional partners and will have until the same date to get qualified.

Pioneer partners will show as an Authorised Partner and have until 31 January 2021 to obtain any missing certifications to become Cloud Professional partners. The Authorised partner level won’t have access to incentives or benefits, only receive deal registration pricing.

Nutanix is also introducing a new rebate that rewards Cloud Champion partners for selling across the entire Nutanix portfolio. However, the Elevate programme will also focus on partner capabilities and competencies, rather than revenue targets.

“The more capabilities and competencies a partner gets on Nutanix, the more advantages they get from us, period,” Nutanix’s Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) channel chief, Cyril VanAgt, told Microscope.

“This is a value-based model that does not depend on the number of deals you close with Nutanix, or the dollars you resell. It’s based only on the competencies. We measure this, of course, with certification,”

New business incentive

Nutanix has reduced the number of incentives for greater simplicity, but it is offering new front-end margins and greater rebate levels for bringing in new business.

“We want to win new customers with our partners, so we are giving significant back-end rebates to our partners when they take us to a new customer. The percentage of rebates been greatly enhanced compared to the previous programme. And we have extended the new logo incentive to the first six months of life of a prospect, so the partner is rewarded if they do additional deal with the customer during those 180 days,” said VanAgt.

Elsewhere, Nutanix said a new Performance+ Deal Registration programme will offer increased discounts, more predictable deal margins and enhanced opportunity protection.

“When a partner registers for the new deal registration programme, the advantage they get from is clear. They can see the advantage compared with partners who didn’t get the deal registration,” said VanAgt.

“Our philosophy, if possible, is to work with only one partner to avoid price wars between partners on the same projects or products. So, it’s a great enhancement in terms of predictability on the margin.”

In addition, partners will now have access to a consistent set of tools, resources, and marketing platforms provided in the new Nutanix Partner Portal.

“In the past, it was complicated to find information in the partner portal,” said VanAgt. “And if a partner wanted to know how many certified people they had or the amount of the rebates earned on the previous period, they’d have to manually ask someone.

“Now everything will be presented on the page. It’s a bit like a frequent flyer programme, where you know exactly how many miles you earn and how many you need to get to the next level.”

The firm has introduced auto-payment to make it quicker for partners to receive incentives.

Welcomed by partners

Partner reaction to the changes have been largely positive.

Jonathan Lassman, founder and director of Nutanix partner, Epaton Limited, described the new programme as “a game changer”.

He said: “The programme is clear, easy to read and understand; the engagement model has been strengthened, the back-end rebates have been greatly enhanced, and this competency-based approach and profitability model is exactly what we were looking for.”

Elsewhere, Steph Watters, partner manager, group technology sourcing at Computacenter, said the fact that there is just one scheme for all partners focused on capabilities is better for everyone.

“The portal also simplifies all of the processes for us, including registering deals and rebates, helping us to drive efficiencies, as well as increase profitability,” said Watters.

Andrew Boyce, managing director of ET Works, added: “The focus on capabilities instead of deal volume will ensure that the investments made by the channel in skills and training is not wasted. This combined with the full automation of incentives and rebates means it is a welcome update.”

Nutanix’s most recent figures show the firm has grown its partner base in the UK by 25% year over year, and by 28% in EMEA.

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