Checking All The Boxes: The CRN 2024 Partner Program Guide

Solution providers and strategic service providers are counting on IT vendor partners and their channel programs to provide training, support and other resources as they work with AI and other leading-edge technologies. Robust channel programs are critical for partner success.

D&H Distributing launched its “Go Big AI” program in February, offering training, enablement resources and tools to help channel partners work with – and profit from – AI-powered software such as Microsoft Copilot. In March HP Inc. teamed up with Nvidia to create the Future Ready AI MasterClass training and certification program for partners in the HP Amplify program. Also in March, Juniper Networks revamped its partner program to help solution providers leverage AIOps to more effectively provide managed networking services to their customers.

These are a few examples of how leading IT companies and distributors are expanding their partner programs to help resellers, solution providers, MSPs and other channel partners navigate the rapidly evolving market for AI products and services. They also provide prime examples of how IT companies that offer comprehensive partner programs can effectively assist their channel partners at a time of immense technological change.

For the channel, choosing which IT vendors to partner with is more important than ever. The 2024 Partner Program Guide comes at a critical time for the channel as solution providers want to know which companies offer the training, financial assistance and other resources they need to be successful.

The Partner Program Guide provides detailed information about the channel programs operated by leading IT vendors including program tiers and requirements, partner incentives, training and certifications, business development, lead generation, sales and marketing support, vendor-partner communications, partner portal capabilities, service delivery, recurring revenue opportunities, and more.

In January cybersecurity leader Check Point Software Technologies launched a new channel program with an array of updates covering program tiers, certifications and deal protection. The enhancements are aimed at accelerating Check Point’s expansion with partners in areas beyond its core network security segment, such as in email, cloud and endpoint security, Francisco Criado, vice president of the global partner ecosystem organization, told CRN.

“We want them to sell our comprehensive portfolio,” Criado said. “They'll be rewarded for selling beyond network security, competitive displacement, investing in specialization and attracting new customers.”

Software vendor Red Hat is launching a series of updates to its partner program throughout this year, promising partners a new accelerator initiative, a product demonstration platform, greater transparency, upgraded tools for cross-collaboration, and easier access to technology, training and resources.

“Our goal here with Red Hat and the Red Hat ecosystem is to really build, connect and catalyze that coalition of experts, that ecosystem of partners, so that together we can build those customer-relevant solutions, which incorporate Red Hat technologies, but [are] bigger than that,” Stefanie Chiras, Red Hat senior vice president of partner ecosystem success, told CRN.

Other leading IT vendors have been busy this year updating and expanding their channel programs. In January IBM launched a service track in its Partner Plus program with the goal of providing more resources for co-creation, demand generation, skilling and more for MSPs, consultancies, systems integrators and other similar business models. That same month data protection and management software developer Veeam expanded its channel partner program with improvements to help partners earn – and continue earning over time – via sales of its technology, as well as improvements in training and certifications.

Nerdio updated its Enterprise “Partnerd” Program in February with a new deal registration and protection system, proposal-based marketing capabilities and funded-partner implementation, lead distribution capabilities and quarterly business planning, among other offerings. Also in February, Sophos debuted a Partner Care Support Team – including a dedicated 24x7 team of Sophos experts who handle and assist with MSP tasks – through its global partner program to aid in non-sales administrative and operational tasks, providing faster response times and increased efficiency for its partners.

The CRN Partner Program Guide is based on detailed applications submitted by IT companies – more than 280 this year – that outline all aspects of their channel programs. The goal is to help the channel identify which partner programs offer the incentives, resources and assistance that channel partners need to be successful in today’s turbulent business climate and highly competitive marketplace.

To assemble the annual Partner Program Guide, The Channel Company’s research team analyzes the application data and designates some of the programs as 5-Star, recognizing an elite subset of partner programs with overall exemplary ratings. The 5-Star analysis covers partner incentives, margins and discounts, partner profitability, sales and marketing assistance, and subscription-based and consumption-based pricing availability. The criteria also include the availability of sales leads, deal registration, pre- and post-sales support, programs to help partners grow their services attach, training and education offerings, specializations and technical certifications.

Details and insights about each company’s partner program can be found here. Throughout this week CRN is publishing slideshows with snapshots of 5-Star partner programs in specific technology categories including system and data center, cloud platform and infrastructure, software, data storage and backup, networking and unified communications, devices and peripherals, and security.

Additional slideshows will provide samplings of channel executive answers to such questions as what were the most significant changes to partner programs over the past year, what goals are IT companies setting for their partner programs in 2024, what elements of their program do channel chiefs wish partners took more advantage of, and what is their “elevator pitch” to solution providers who are not currently part of their partner programs.