Solution providers said the new certification program from Veritas Software will bring them closer to the storage management software vendor and its storage and services offerings.
Veritas introduced the new certification program this past weekend at a partner summit held here. The program is aimed at giving its solution provider partners the same level of certification as the vendor's own direct sales consultants.
Hank Johnson, vice president of infrastructure solutions at Stonebridge Technologies, a Sun MIcrosystems and Veritas solution provider based here, said he is happy when vendors such as Veritas offer certification programs. "We want to be a fully leveraged partner of Veritas," he said. "I think a year from now, Veritas will be very surprised at the uplift they get from this program."
The Veritas certification program is helpful to solution providers who have seen the importance of storage management to their heterogeneous infrastructures, Johnson said. "We want to scale our business to what customers need, and then to what the vendors have to offer," he said.
Veritas has always had a good certification program, one that may not have been formalized, but which nevertheless showed the company knew what they wanted their partners to have, said Derek Gamradt, vice president of engineering and CTO of StorNet, an Englewood, Colo.-based storage specialist solution provider.
"But in light [of all of the partners that we have, it seems like certification du jour," Gamradt said. "I could literally put two people on staff full-time to do nothing but maintain certification testing and never get a dollar out of them billable-wise. Every supplier has gotten certification-crazy."
The good news, however, is that these certifications separate the wheat from the chaff, Gamradt said. "The bad news is for those of us who have been doing this for so long, it's almost like an exercise that slows us down to get the point done."
For start-up integrators, I would know that to be a player with any vendor, I would need to make the appropriate investments, making this a good way for suppliers to work out who really wants to be in the game, Gamradt said.
However, if certification is widely available from a vendor, it could dilute the value to those solution providers who have developed a long-term expertise, said Gamradt. "Where there's mystery, there's margin," he said. "And right now, each new person that gets certified in a technology where we consider ourselves expert, it reduces the overall mystery pool."
The real news about the certification program is that it marks the first time Veritas has rolled out a comprehensive partner plan that includes all the traditional elements: certification, revenue commitments, commensurate margins locked in to the sales commitment, and geographic coverages.
"These are all the things that one would consider reasonable and customary in a reseller plan [but have been traditionally been somewhat disjointed from Veritas," Gamradt said. "Somebody, and I would think this was Don Foster [vice president of partner sales in the Americas at Veritas who put this together, who said, 'OK, there's one reseller plan in the United States, here are the rules to be an elite partner, you have to have X revenue, so many certifications, so much of a commitment, and you have to fill these obligations.' And that was never that way in the past."
Dave Hall, senior vice president and CTO of CompuCom, said the Dallas-based Veritas solution provider is looking forward to testing for certification, as it raises the bar on who can be a partner for the vendor.
Hall said he likes the fact that the testing process is the same as that Veritas' own consultants go through. "We want it that way," he said. "You want the same expertise as the vendors. What we bring to customers is a more vendor-agnostic approach."
Certification testing is not necessarily easy, even for those with a lot of experience, Hall said. "When you look at vendors' tests, none are bullet-proof," he said. "All approach the technology differently, and use different terminology.
We keep a database about certification and testing. As we find issues, we document them so that as our engineers take tests in the future, they can zoom in on getting certified quicker and not waste time on issues not related to customers."