NetApp gets partners lined up behind revised programme

Vendor told partners back in May that a fresh programme would come in a year and it has continued to outline the roadmap

NetApp has continued to update its channel on the changes that are coming to the partner programme next May.

The vendor first indicated that changes were on the way in May, a year ahead of the changes coming into effect. It held a partner event late last week, with the changes forming the centre of the update.

“We put some details out in May, and we’ve steadily given more and more details to the NetApp community,” said Denise Bryant, channel director UK&I at NetApp. “But the actual partner programme will not come into play until May 2022, so we’re giving them all a clear 12-month runway to be able to work on the effects of the new rebate structures and how that will affect their financials.”

Bryant said the vendor had acknowledged there were different types of partners and the old approach of rewarding those that deliver the largest revenues needed to be changed.

“What we’re doing is because we are transforming ourselves much more into being a cloud-centric company, and therefore that means that more and more of our portfolio will be bought as a service, as a consumption model, rather than being straight large capex sales, which is typically the hardware paradigm,” she added. “We’re changing our whole partner programme to reflect that.”

The expectation is that by having given a year’s notice, by the time the changes come into play in May 2022, partners will be ready and will have gained the required certifications to qualify for rewards. There will be three levels, with chances for influencers, service players and transactional partners to be part of those strata.

One type of partner that will be rewarded under the new model are influencers, those that recommend NetApp but don’t deliver it. Bryant said the vendor would be establishing communities of partners to make sure it could recognise those that added value.

“Going forward, what we’re saying is, within these three strata it’s very important now that partners need to differentiate themselves by what they’re selling and how they’re selling it, rather than just having technical certifications,” she said. “It’s much more around their expertise and their experience, their ability to talk outcomes and to talk line of business and to talk specialised in specialised areas.”

As well as moving away from simply relying on revenue, NetApp is also increasing the specialisations that partners can line up behind from three to nine, including cloud certification, SAP certification and other specialised solutions and outcomes.

“We’re then going to create communities between the influence partners and the partners who hold the relevant solution specification to then take that to market going forward,” said Bryant.

The response from the partners in the room last week was good and Bryant believes it is because they can see that the world is changing. “They know what’s happening, they’re talking to their customers,” she said.

NetApp is supporting partners with the transition to the new programme, and Bryant stressed the importance of a firm that gets so much of its business via partners ensuring that any changes worked for everyone.

“It’s a business necessity – 92% of our business comes via the channel, via our partners, and they are incredibly important to us,” she said. “So, if we did something to alienate them, actually you’ve got to say, well, who’s the fool?

“I want to empower them to continue to be the tremendous growth engine that the partner community is. I want to make them even more successful. And my big mantra to them is: let’s go and win net new customers together.”

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