New Novell Partner Program Will Feature Reduced Fees, Enhanced Training

Launch of PartnerNet 2002 slated for Jan. 7

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Novell plans to cut annual fees and boost training and support benefits for named solution providers under its PartnerNet 2002 program, set for a Jan. 7 introduction.

The Provo-based company, which is trying to rebuild its channel relations even as it integrates Cambridge Technology Partners into the company culture, recently adopted new rules of engagement that are based on a named accounts-named partner model. As part of PartnerNet 2002, Novell will also cut fees and add enhanced training and account support benefits for its list of named partners in each region, said sources.

Ladd Timpson, Novell's worldwide director of channel marketing, confirmed in November that the fees will be lower. "We're going to match more of the industry norms on the fees," Timpson said.

When the company unveiled PartnerNet 2001 last year, it hiked fees and caused a ruckus among partners. While the certification fees--$995 for Gold partners and $2,995 for Platinum partners--didn't change per se, traditional exemptions often given to solution providers that met program requirements were eliminated.

Two named partners involved in the development of PartnerNet 2002 said the new program meets their needs and Novell's.

"Throughout the last five months, channel partners were given several opportunities to provide candid input and feedback to develop and tune the new program," said Carlos Paz-Soldan, vice president of technology and services at Toronto-based Tenet Computer Group, one recently named partner of Novell. "As such, I think the new program addresses and balances the needs of VARs and distributors, as well as Novell's."

"The new [Partnernet 2002 program appears to have been realigned with the more traditional pieces we liked most in past years' Novell partnership programs," said Terry Calloway, president of Data Technique, a Novell partner in Pittsburg, Kan. "Local account support, local training and reinstating certification requirements [of PartnerNet 2002 to say the least makes it a better program. Am I willing to pay for it? Heck, yes. We have to pay for other programs, and the best partnership programs are not the free ones. Besides, the return on investment with our Novell partnership is always in the black."

Solution providers were also miffed last year because PartnerNet 2001 imposed quarterly revenue requirements on its Platinum and Gold partners for the first time. The requirements set $50,000 and $15,000 quarterly performance targets for its Platinum and Gold partners, respectively. It is not yet known how PartnerNet 2002 requirements will differ for named partners vs. other Novell solution providers.

Other solution providers maintain that despite Novell's recent efforts to reassure partners, its acquisition of services company Cambridge Technology Partners last year and overall consulting services build-up makes the program a dead end for them.

"I was a Novell Platinum just over one year ago, but now I'm so disillusioned with the company and their interest in the channel that I've had little to do with them," said one former Novell solution provider, who declined to be named. "There would have to be a significant outreach effort on the part of Novell to interest me at this point."

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