Informatica Overhauls Channel Partner Program

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"We're putting a lot of emphasis on partner enablement that we didn't before," said Harry Gould, senior vice president of worldwide alliances who oversees the new Inform partner initiative that replaces the old Alliances program. The vendor also has developed a branch of the program for OEM partners who want to build Informatica's data integration technology into their enterprise software and software-as-a-service products.

About 50 percent of Informatica's sales are generated by its channel partners, who include some 250 regional systems integrators and VARs and several dozen OEMs and large systems integrators, Gould said in an interview. He wants to grow the company's indirect sales faster than its direct sales.

That's possible given that Informatica, Redwood City, Calif., remains the largest independent marketer of data integration software, following industry consolidation in recent years that included IBM's acquisition of Ascential in 2005 and Oracle's buyout of Synopsis in 2006. Gould said a lot of solution providers want to work with Informatica's data integration software because it's not tied to products from the major vendors.

The Inform program ranks partners as "foundation," "elite" or "global" based on their level of commitment to Informatica, as judged by the amount of sales opportunities and services revenue they generate and the number Informatica-certified staff they have, Gould said.

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Informatica now guarantees channel partners 10 percent of the value of any deal they bring to Informatica and register with the partner portal. The vendor previously offered discounts off software list prices, but Gould acknowledges that wasn't terribly successful. "Most of our partners are playing for services revenue," he said. Informatica has a small professional services operation that works with about 10 percent of its customers and Gould said the company intends to restrict its size to avoid channel conflict. And quotas for Informatica sales reps include only software license sales, not service revenue.

Informatica also has hired regional alliance managers to coordinate sales efforts between direct sales reps and solution provider partners and head-off channel conflict, Gould said.

"If we can minimize the conflict and follow the black-and-white rules of engagement, it just makes our lives that much easier and makes us more efficient," said Dan Rebella, president and CEO of DSC Consulting, a Cincinnati-based solution provider that's been an Informatica partner since 2004 and is now an "elite" partner. The solution provider resells Informatica's software for building business intelligence and data warehouse systems.

The new Inform program is living up to its billing, according to Rebella. "So far it has not been just lip-service," he said. The improved program stems from a meeting Gould had with resellers in Chicago last fall "which really identified many of the things [solution providers] were looking for," Rebella said. Informatica now offers "a big commitment to training their partners," he said, and works more closely with solution providers in sales and marketing.

He especially praises the new "beInformed" partner portal, which launched last month, where he can register sales leads and update information on deals. It also provides him with access to the same sales presentations that Informatica's direct sales force uses, he said.