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Early in 2010 NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson got a lot of people's attention when he declared: "If traditional midmarket VARs don't change to meet the demand for cloud computing solutions, they will go out of business."
That was followed up with an offer to allow channel partners to keep 100 percent of the first-year subscription revenue generated by new customer contracts for NetSuite's on-demand ERP and CRM applications.
The moves by NetSuite were significant for two reasons: After years of questions about the role of solution providers in cloud computing, Nelson & Co. made a bold statement that cloud vendors and solution providers do indeed need each other. More broadly, it was representative of last year's trend of IT vendors going to the next level to provide channel partners (or at least those deemed worthy) with the resources and incentives they need to be successful.
The 2011 Partner Program Guide that follows offers solution providers the information they need to evaluate IT vendors they already work with or are considering working with. The guide is based on detailed applications vendors submitted outlining all aspects of their partner programs. Everything Channel Research crunched the numbers and designated some programs as 5-Star Partner programs. That listing begins on page 20 and expanded charts are available online at www.crn.com.
The vendor applications also offer a snapshot of the current state of IT vendor partner programs and provide some eye-opening insights into channel trends.
Take cloud computing. The PPG applications showed that 68.1 percent of vendors now offer VARs training and advice to help them better understand how they may incorporate cloud solutions into their current offerings.
That is in line with recent announcements from such vendors as Cisco, IBM and SAP. Earlier this month, for example, Cisco rolled out an ambitious and comprehensive package of offerings to help partners build profitable practices selling cloud infrastructure and services. Also this month, SAP debuted a program to provide partners with training and lead-generation assistance in an effort to encourage them to carry the Business By Design on-demand application suite. And in February, IBM offered new training, technical, sales and marketing resources to help channel partners expand into cloud computing.
"Our job in this is real simple: Lower risk and lower investment costs," said Taylor Macdonald, vice president of channel at Intacct, a supplier of on-demand financial applications. To recruit resellers, the company now provides a week of hands-on technical training at its San Jose, Calif.-based headquarters and a 20-part sales training course via the Web. Intacct's professional services group assists with a partner's first Intacct implementation. And Intacct sales representatives are assigned to work closely with a partner's sales force.