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Reflecting CA's new go-to-market approach is a complete overhaul of the company's channel partner program that's slated to launch April 1, 2012, the start of the company's fiscal year.
The program will eliminate the current Silver, Gold and Platinum tiers, replacing them with "Advanced" and "Premier" tiers for top partners. Tier placement, currently based almost solely on meeting sales goals, will also include partner certifications in product competencies and meeting goals laid out in business plans. One goal will be to reward partner investments in developing new business service capabilities, Bradley said.
The new program will have a simpler structure, letting partners combine revenue from one-time sales and recurring revenue from services to count toward program benefits. And Bradley promised "contract flexibility" for both "sell-to" and "sell-through" initiatives and "major overhauls" to pricing models and quoting systems.
The company is beta testing a new partner relationship management system based on Salesforce.com applications. The partner portal is being rebuilt – including adding a deal registration system and rules of engagement to avoid channel conflict. And some channel partners are already using the new Partner Opportunity Platform to retrieve demand-generation materials and other marketing content.
"I like what I'm hearing," said Mike Ragusa, director of enterprise sales at ePlus Technology, a Hauppauge, N.Y.-based solution provider. Speaking outside of the partner session, Ragusa said ePlus is doing more work with cloud computing systems from Cisco, EMC and VMware, "and we could use CA management tools to add value there. They're on the right track."
CA has a ways to go, however. In a session called the "Partner Deep Dive," BJ Schaknowski, vice president of global solution provider sales, acknowledged that development of the competency certification system is only in its early stages, for example.
"I didn't think there was enough detail," said Ross at GreenPages. While the solution provider has sold ARCserve, Erwin and other products, GreenPages generally stayed away from partnering with CA's enterprise operations (where the cloud computing products reside) because of past channel conflict problems.
"CA is trying to be a little more flexible right now because they are still trying to convince partners to come back," Ross said. "I can go outside of [CA World] and talk to 10 partners and nine of them will say they will never work with CA again because of past experiences. I was one of those people a year ago."
But GreenPages is buying into the new CA vision. The solution provider has already invested "six figures" in its CA-related business (which launches next month), including software purchases, marketing programs, and sales and technical training. GreenPages plans on working with a broad swath of CA products, including the CA Automation Suite for Clouds, CA APM, CA Spectrum, ITKO Lisa, and others.
Ross also has praise for Bradley, other CA channel managers, and the channel support organization. "These are channel pros. They get it, they understand it, and they know what's going on," he said.
"Our partnership with CA has been very refreshing," said Martin at Logicalis, citing as an example a series of workshops CA offered the solution provider to help it go to market with CA products without channel conflict. CA's embrace of the channel, he said, is not just lip service. "I have not gotten this level of support from any other vendor that we've worked with.
"Part of it, I think, is CA is really recognizing they are at an inflection point in their business [and] they basically need to grab some market share. And they are really putting their best foot forward," Martin said.
"CA has really turned the corner," Ross agreed. "It's just blown our expectations away, going above and beyond, with what they're willing to do and how far they're willing to work with the channel."