With the FlexPod Premium Partner Framework, NetApp and Cisco are not asking channel partners to make a major change in how they work with the vendors, Cisco's Allison said.
"It requires incremental training," he said. "The training is online. There's no need to take anyone from the field."
That training includes taking a technical consulting accelerator module that provides partners a way to benchmark their professional services, as well as some new pre-sales and post-sales competencies, all of which are available online.
The vendors are also providing FlexPod Premium Partner Framework partners with a new online demo lab to try new solutions with customers. "Our FlexPod Premium Partner Framework partners get priority access to the lab," Allison said. "We've been in beta with the lab for 60 days, and it's already booked solid for the next 90 days."
Peter Howard, senior director of data center alliances at NetApp, said there are about 400 joint Cisco and NetApp channel partners. About 225 of those partners are currently authorized to work with FlexPod, and about 150 of them are actively selling FlexPod Worldwide.
Of the 225 authorized partners, 20 percent deliver about 80 percent of the business. The new Framework program is targeting the top 10 percent of the two vendors' partners, Howard said.
However, he said, the program is open to all partners who want to invest in it.
"The requirements are light but meaningful," he said. "Partners need two people to take a half-day training in sales and pre-sales, as well as two people who each need 1.5 days of post-sales training. If partners choose to go through the certification, we welcome them to join."