Citrix Systems Wednesday unveiled a significant overhaul of its partner program, which it says is motivated by the changing economics of cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service revenue flowing through the channel.
As a result of the overhaul, Citrix Gold and Platinum partners will have to sell a lot more than they've sold in the past to retain their status in the vendor's channel program. Citrix is also introducing deal registration for its NetScaler cloud networking product, but some partners are wary of the change because it modifies the way they're getting paid for selling the product.
These moves are part of Citrix's broader campaign to focus more on higher-value partners. Last November, several partners told CRN that Citrix had been taking over enterprise and midmarket accounts as part of its so-called "High Touch" program, which launched in January 2012. That caused partners to miss out on renewals and maintenance money despite having done the legwork of bringing in customers.
As part of the new changes, Citrix is adding an incentive called Opportunity Registration for partners that procure its NetScaler cloud networking product through distribution, Tom Flink, vice president of worldwide channels and market development at Citrix, said Tuesday in an interview.
Depending on their level in Citrix's channel program, partners will have a chance to earn up-front discounts of up to 10 percent when they register NetScaler deals, Flink said. Citrix is offering the incentive because of the highly competitive nature of networking hardware deals, which rival vendors have been known to poach.
"We believe the time it takes to close deals, and the procurement cycles involved in larger accounts, opens the door for more competitors to enter the picture as you move through the buying cycle," Flink said. Citrix wants to give a leg up to partners that can sell and influence deals in this space, he said.
While Citrix is pitching Opportunity Registration as an incentive, not all partners see it that way.
"One thing that makes me nervous is that Citrix is telling customers that starting May 1, all quotes that have been made to customers are invalid," one Citrix partner, who requested anonymity because he's not authorized to speak about internal company matters, told CRN.
"Not sure why they would do this unless they're taking the margin out of that 10 percent or using this as a mechanism to lower the street price. This has the potential to result in good things, but we'll have to see how it gets applied," said the source.
Citrix is also increasing the certification and revenue requirements for Gold- and Platinum-level partners in its Solution Advisor program. In return, Citrix is doing away with its previous invitation-only policy for granting partners entry to the Gold and Platinum levels, Flink said.
Starting May 1, Gold partners will have to sell a minimum of $850,000 of Citrix products annually (based on MSRP) to retain their status. Previously, their minimum revenue requirement was $225,000.
Platinum partners, whose minimum revenue requirement used to be spelled out in their individual agreement with Citrix, will now have to sell $3.5 million annually. Silver partners previously had to hit a $40,000 annual sales target, but Citrix is now letting them keep this status regardless of how much they sell.
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