On the Eve of Annual Partner Conference, Novell Preps Program Changes

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Come Monday, Novell partners will get their best look yet at the new Novell. That's when the software developer will officially unveil its PartnerNet 2002 channel program, which includes several enhancements for Novell partners, including a new Platinum Integrator program.

VARBusiness will be hand when CEO Jack Messman and fellow senior channel managers at Novell outline the changes for more than 100 partners expected to attend the Palm Springs, Calif., partner retreat. Below is a sneak peek at some of the details of the new plan gleaned in an exclusive, on-campus visit to the Provo, Utah-based software company.

Echoing its already announced ClearChannel initiative, PartnerNet 2002 is designed to clarify the company's business proposition with regards to the channel. Channel managers at the company, including Ladd Timpson, director of worldwide channel marketing, say the company understands that after beefing up its own consulting capabilities and merging with a consulting company, Cambridge Technology Partners, third-party solution providers who rely on Novell to propel technology sales have reason for confusion. That's why in November 2001 the company unveiled its Clear Channel initiative, which specified which customer accounts and business partners Novell will focus on, and why it is making certain changes to PartnerNet for 2002.

Key among the objectives for this year are: improving clarity around Novell's channel strategy, updating its channel programs to account for new business models and defining investments across sales, marketing and services. With these goals in mind, Novell has set out to do the following:

  • Introduce a new Platinum Integrator program for service-focused integration companies.

  • Re-introduce certification requirements for partners.

  • Increase the amount of technical support provided to partners.

  • Reduce PartnerNet Program fees by 25 to 50 percent, depending on partner designation.

    Novell insiders say the changes will build on momentum achieved last year with the release of NetWare 6 and with the winning of various industry awards, including a first place award in the 2001 VARBusiness Annual Report Card survey. In particular, Novell says it believes its co-engagement model and base line technical support capability tops Microsoft's, among others, at this juncture.

    Under the new program, annual fees for Platinum partners will be lowered, to $1,500 from $2,995. Fees for Gold partners will also be lowered, to $750 from $995.

    Platinum Integrators will be required to employ four CNEs certified in NetWare 6, plus two directory specialists. They'll also need four CNS sales specialists trained on NetWare 6 and a sub-contracting agreement with Novell. Platinum Solution Providers will be required to have four CNEs and four CNSes, as well, but not two directory specialists. The sub-contracting agreement will be an option. Gold partners will need two CNEs and two CNSes for 2002.

    "I think we want to reward partners for their level of Novell expertise, which I think we kind of got out of last year," says Timpson. "We want to reward competence rather than pay for performance. Asking partners to raise their level of competence, we believe, will lead to their improved performance for both us and them."

    With regards to technical support, both Platinum and Gold partners will receive more base-level technical incidents than before. Platinum partners will receive 15 incidents, up from five in 2001. Golds will get four incidents, up from one.

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