Cloud Biggies and their Partnership Programs
One of the best ways to encourage sales is through specialized partnership programs, and IT companies have long employed this strategy to promote their traditional offerings. Now they have started similar initiatives for their cloud computing services as well.
While some companies have tried to get buy-in from end-consumers, even going to the extent of offering services for free (See: Ninefold and Rackspace Battle for Australian Startup Mind Space and Why is Rackspace targeting Startups?), others have started targeting their channel partners, all in the hope of grabbing larger shares of the expanding cloud computing pie.
HP recently announced the launch of its Enterprise Security Cloud Connections partner program through which its partners can help customers view and assess enterprise-wide risks while automating compliance reporting across on-premise and cloud-based environments.
As per the press release, this program would allow “cloud providers to integrate a customer’s cloud-based applications and infrastructure by using the HP Security Intelligence and Risk Management (SIRM) platform. The platform provides a standard format for publishing security risk event information generated by cloud service providers to customers, partners and security information and event management vendors.” Box, Inc. and Okta have been the first to sign on.
“Limited transparency into user activity is often a major impediment to the use of cloud applications or infrastructure by enterprise customers,” said Jeff Scheel, vice president, Business Development, Enterprise Security, HP. “Through partners such as Box and Okta, HP can accelerate the adoption of cloud-based resources by reducing concerns around visibility, compliance and security.”
Similarly, IBM has announced several partner incentives at its recently concluded PartnerWorld conference in New Orleans. IBM SmartCloud Services provides a directory of partners that will allow system builders to find partners with specific competencies. Then there is the IBM Solution Accelerator program that incentivizes the sale of combined software and systems and/or business solutions and IBM Global Financing that offers preferential financing to business partners. The company has about 121,000 approved business partners.
According to a post by Matthew Weinberger who had the opportunity to speak with Dell Channel Chief Greg Davis at the recent Dell Enterprise Spring launch event in San Francisco, the company is planning the launch of a cloud computing certification.
According to Davis, Dell’s partner program, with 100,000 members currently, rewards certifications more than financial commitment or sales performance. Accordingly, this new cloud computing certification is expected to significantly add to the number of 2,601 partners who have at least one certificate. Dell is focused on educating its partners, and had offered value added resellers (VARs) 135,000 free training classes last year, a figure that may be scaled up to a quarter million in 2012.
It is clear that cloud computing companies are aggressively looking to expand their markets. While direct sales may work better with the bigger enterprise clients, channel partners may provide better access to the small and medium businesses (SMB) demographic. And that would explain the proliferation of partnership programs.
By Sourya Biswas