Channel programs News

2023 Partner Program Guide: Meet The Channel Team Players

Rick Whiting

Vendors know they have to be at the top of their game when it comes to offering solution providers incentives, training, recurring revenue opportunities and more. Here are the vendors leading the way.


Today more than ever, solution providers are looking to the IT vendors they partner with for support during turbulent economic times.

The 2023 Partner Program Guide comes at a critical time for the channel as solution providers are looking to see which companies have their back.

The Partner Program Guide provides detailed information, 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.

Vendors understand the importance of operating a comprehensive, up-to-date partner program. IBM started off 2023 with the launch of its new IBM Partner Plus program that includes an accelerator initiative for new partners and a promise to push more accounts to the channel. The company will follow that up with a new incentive stack in April and new co-marketing and demand generation programs in July.

“It is a simple, transparent and predictable program,” said Kate Woolley, general manager of the IBM ecosystem, at the launch. “It gives our partners a simplified path for them to progress with IBM, whether they’re building, selling or servicing. It is inclusive of all of our partner types. And we’ve built this program based on what we heard from partners.”

Right on IBM’s heels, Google Cloud in January debuted improvements to its Partner Advantage program that boosted incentives across the board for partners and invested heavily in new training and support. From a new unified migration program and introduction of product-family-specific tracks to a new support desk for partners, Google Cloud touted the changes as ways to increase partner margins, sales, expertise and customer opportunities in 2023.

“The big message here is that Google continues to double down with its investments in our partner ecosystem,” Kevin Ichhpurani, corporate vice president, global ecosystems and channels, told CRN. “What customers are expecting more is a much higher degree of deep specialization in areas like analytics, cybersecurity and app modernization. So we’re making very material investments in ensuring that partners can build that deeper level of competency and successfully deliver a solution for the customer.”

For its part, ServiceNow unveiled an upgraded partner program in January with the goal of helping partners differentiate themselves and expand their opportunities. Cloudera likewise launched a revamped partner program in November aimed at meeting the needs of the company’s increasingly diverse channel partner ecosystem. And that same month Cisco Systems introduced new partner specializations focused on solution delivery.

Security companies have been especially active on the partner program front. In February Skyhigh Security debuted its first distinct partner program, focused on reseller and distributor partners, since the 2022 split of McAfee Enterprise. Palo Alto Networks and Okta both have partner program upgrades in the works for this year.

The Partner Program Guide is based on detailed applications submitted by IT vendors—more than 300 this year—that outline all aspects of their channel programs. The complete list can be found here.

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.

The 5-Star criteria include 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, specialization and technical certifications.

In addition to the complete Partner Program Guide CRN is also running a series of slide shows this week showcasing 5-Star partner program vendors according to technology categories including cloud platforms and infrastructure, devices and peripherals, data storage and backup, networking and unified communications, security, software, and systems and data center, along with 5-Star partner programs operated by distributors and emerging vendors. While many companies provide products and services that span multiple technologies, we’ve assigned each vendor to the slide show for the technology category in which they are most prominent.

Wade Millward and Mark Haranas contributed to this story

Rick Whiting

Rick Whiting has been with CRN since 2006 and is currently a feature/special projects editor. Whiting manages a number of CRN’s signature annual editorial projects including Channel Chiefs, Partner Program Guide, Big Data 100, Emerging Vendors, Tech Innovators and Products of the Year. He also covers the Big Data beat for CRN. He can be reached at

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