EMC on Sunday opened its EMC World 2012 conference with its first Global Partner Summit, during which the company introduced several initiatives aimed at making it easier for its solution providers to build their cloud practices and take advantage of new services offerings.
The Global Partner Summit, which the company estimated is bringing about 3,000 channel partner personnel together this week in Las Vegas, is also a chance for the storage giant to show the moves it is taking to turn its direct sales reps into true allies of its VARs.
The company also showed solution providers the latest model in its VNXe SMB array family -- the VNXe3150 -- which includes a quad-core processor and an SSD tier.
The VNXe3150 is slated to ship in the second half of the year both as a stand-alone array and as part of EMC's new VSPEX reference architecture. VSPEX provides blueprints on how to build data center infrastructures, including EMC storage, Brocade or Cisco networking, VMware or Microsoft virtualization, and industry-standard servers from any vendor.
New for EMC is EMC Cooperative Services, its first series of services designed specifically for channel partners.
These are based on services developed by EMC Global Services, including health checks and performance assessments, and will give new capabilities to partners who cannot deliver those services now but who are willing to invest in services-related skills, said Jason Mundy, EMC's director of global services marketing, who talked to CRN before the Partner Summit.
"(Partners) can maintain the face in the relationship to the customer," Mundy said. "They own the contract. They own the delivery. They own the entire engagement and the relationship."
Also new from EMC are Velocity Cloud Practices, a group of capabilities tied to its Velocity channel program aimed at helping solution providers to build private or public clouds.
The first of these, Cloud Builder, gives solution providers who invest in cloud-related services the skills needed to build private clouds. The other is Cloud Provider, which is focused on helping partners who are service providers and who are looking to provide public clouds to customers.
Cloud Builder requires solution providers to invest heavily in cloud capabilities, Mundy said. "You have to teach them the end-to-end opportunity in the cloud, how to find the business justification, how to build the business case, how to design or architect for the cloud," he said.
NEXT: EMC Continues To Push Business To Channel
Solution providers entering Velocity Cloud Practices receive training from EMC to get certified as an EMC Proven Professional Cloud Architect, as well as access to new EMC cloud solutions and services and EMC's best practices.
The Cloud Builder Practice is slated to be available in the third quarter, while the Cloud Provider Practice is expected to be available in the fourth quarter.
The moves come on top of a concerted effort over the past few years to build EMC into a channel-friendly storage vendor.
EMC's Chairman and CEO Joe Tucci told CRN before the meeting that EMC's business is growing much faster than the IT industry as a whole, and that over two-thirds of that growth is being driven and heavily influenced by the channel.
That does not mean that EMC is turning away from direct sales, Tucci said.
"As long as I'm living and breathing, we're goning to have a strong direct sales force," he said. "It's the power of 'and,' not the power of 'or.' It's not, 'Are you a direct sales organization or a channel organization?' It's, 'Have you mastered how to do both?'"
Today's EMC is not the same hard-charging direct sales company of years past, said Bill Scannell, EMC's executive vice president, Americas and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), in a meeting before the Global Partner Summit.
EMC's sales reps actually like working with partners in part because of financial incentives to engage with the channel built into their compensation and in part because bringing in a channel partner early into a deal frees them up to move forward and develop new business, Scannell said.
Then there's the big stick EMC wields, when needed, to keep its direct reps in line. "It is a good-sized stick the first time (it is used) and it is the ultimate stick the second time," he said.
Chief among the changes to EMC's channel engagement is Enterprise Select, a program under which the company is moving all of its existing and future new accounts to the channel except for a few hundred enterprise accounts, Greg Ambulos, EMC's senior vice president of global channel sales, told CRN recently.
This builds on the move EMC made about four or five years ago to automatically hand all SMB and midmarket opportunities to solution providers, Ambulos said. "It made this a great place for our partners to establish a good foundation for EMC and work tightly with our sales organization," he said.
NEXT: EMC Makes Enterprise A Channel Play
Under Enterprise Select, if an EMC sales team finds a new opportunity, it will engage the partner quickly so it can move on to develop new customers, Ambulos said.
Another major channel priority for EMC's direct sales reps is to adhere to newly-published rules of engagement which provide guiding principles for how EMC's sales teams work with partners, Ambulos said.
"One rule is to bring a partner into a deal no later than the second sales call," he said. "Or if a partner has a registered deal, EMC (sales reps) cannot take it direct. If they do, then there's ramifications for the sales team. All these rules have been tied into the EMC sales comp plan."
Other rules give partners the lead on services opportunities in channel-only markets or registered deal, prevent EMC from talking about prices with partners' customers, and stop EMC reps from directly engaging with a partner's customers unless authorized by the partner to do so.
EMC has also implemented a new partner capabilities grid to make it easier for its sales reps to introduce the right partner to a deal.
The partner capabilities grid is a search engine which the reps use to check customer needs against multiple partners' skill sets and certifications to find the right solution provider early in the sales cycle, Ambulos said.
Once the partner is involved, it is time for the EMC rep to move on, Ambulos said. "At this point, we go off and try to find another opportunity," he said. "We know this partner is trained, has the ability to drive and conduct sales campaigns."