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Alation Launches Inaugural Channel Program Offering Expanded Training, Certification Opportunities

With the new Alation Partner Network, the data catalog software company looks to step up its partners’ technology integration skills and improve the quality of service they provide to customers for big data projects.

Big data software developer Alation is launching its first official partner program today, looking to establish closer relationships with the system integrators, resellers and technology partners already within its ecosystem and expand the number of partners that work with the company’s data catalog technology.

Providing partners with more training and certification on the Alation software is a major driver behind today’s launch of the Alation Partner Network (APN).

Alation, based in Redwood City, Calif., already works with about 100 partners, including resellers, systems integrators and ISVs, as well as cloud platform providers and software vendors in the big data space. The company already provides a number of partner benefits and services, such as a partner portal and the Alation University for partner training.

[Related: Big Data 100 2020]

Sales of the Alation Data Catalog and related products through partners have been growing – and increasing as a percentage of Alation’s overall sales, says Kiran Narsu, Alation vice president of business development, in an interview with CRN.

“We’re seeing a significant percentage of our client bookings either sourced through partners or involve a partner in some way,” Narsu said, declining to disclose more specific figures. “Partners are core to our strategy.”

As businesses and organizations wrestle with increasing volumes of data, data catalog systems are becoming a critical tool for maintaining inventories of data for search and discovery tasks, tracking where data is located across on-premises and multi-cloud systems, and managing data for governance and compliance purposes.

“The promise is to help customers find and trust their data,” Narsu said.

Alation has not operated a formal partner program before the Alation Partner Network. “We’re trying to build on the great work that we think we’ve already done,” the executive said of the company’s channel efforts to date.

“We partner with Alation and use it to assure the ROI of our clients’ data initiatives,” said Scott Hanrahan, managing director at Keyrus, a systems integration partner (headquartered in Paris, France) that resells, implements and provides services for Alation software as part of its data management and data governance practice.

“The investments Alation is making in this partner program makes it obvious that it’s something management cares about,” Hanrahan said in an interview with CRN.

With data catalog technology playing an increasingly critical role within data intelligence and digital transformation initiatives, Alation’s products have to “play well” with other data preparation, data warehouse, data science and business intelligence software, according to Narsu.

That’s putting more demands on the integration skills of systems integrators and solution providers who work with Alation software. And that’s led to a growing number of requests from systems integrators and resellers for more training, skills development and certification on Alation products, he said.

“We want to help partners facilitate access to more data sources,” Narsu said. “We want to do everything we can to ensure those partners have a high-quality engagement with their clients.”

Through the Alation Partner Network the company is expanding its Alation University training and certification offerings for partner employees, including for consultants who advise customers, administrators who manage data on behalf of customers, and developers who connect the Alation Data Catalog to data sources, Narsu said.

Alation has developed all-new online training content for partners, especially on the product knowledge and technology integration side, but also to provide partners with the marketing and sales skills they need. The university offers training courses, guided exercises and certification exams.

Hanrahan, at Keyrus, said the partner certifications are key. “It’s important that we have a deep enough relationship with the vendor that they trust us to do these complex implementations for clients’ big data initiatives,” he said. Certifications will also play a role in helping Alation identify the right partners when customers have specialized requirements, he added.

Resellers, service providers and technology partners now have more access to Alation personnel and use of its software for testing products and integrations and for employee training purposes, according to Alation.

Alation is also upgrading its partner portal to accommodate the expanded training and certification offerings and to provide more self-service support for implementation projects, according to Narsu. While Alation has traditionally invested heavily in joint marketing initiatives with partners, he said the company is expanding those efforts and adding more market development funds for partners.

Hanrahan praised the increased quantity and quality of the services and materials Alation is offering through the partner portal including deal registration, sales and marketing content, customer case studies, and best practice templates for system implementation and customer enablement.

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