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Citrix Loosens Certification Requirements For Some Products

Resellers can carry virtualization and application delivery software and achieve 'silver' partner designation without certification.

virtualization software

Citrix said its CSA Authorized initiative will make it easier for solution providers not currently in the Citrix camp to begin selling the company's products and for existing resellers to expand the number of Citrix products they carry. The new policy allows solution providers to begin selling Citrix products right away and generate revenue while they work to get certified -- if they choose to.

"We want to be sure we don't put any roadblocks in front of our partners before they can make their first sale," said Tom Flink, Citrix vice president of worldwide channels and emerging product sales. "Simplification is certainly a motivator here."

Until now, Citrix has required that resellers have certified personnel even to become a "silver" member of the Citrix Solution Advisor (CSA) partner program, the program's lowest level. Under the new policy, resellers can become silver members without certification, although they still have to sign a reseller agreement and pay a membership fee. They can remain at the silver level indefinitely without getting certified.

Certification will still be required for participants to become "gold" or "platinum" members of the CSA program. Uncertified vendors won't be eligible to participate in the Citrix Advisor Rewards program that pays up to 15 percent additional margin on qualifying partner sales, even if the partner only had an "influencer" role in closing a deal. They also won't be listed on Citrix's partner locator Web site.

Another caveat: CSA Authorized doesn't apply to Citrix's XenApp virtualization product that channel partners must be certified to carry. Flink said somewhere between 50 and 60 percent of the company's resellers are already certified to resell that product and Citrix wants to protect those partners' investments. Plus, Citrix already has enough XenApp resellers, Flink said, while the CSA Authorized program is designed to increase the ranks of partners that resell other Citrix products, including XenServer, XenDesktop and NetScaler.

Reaction to the Citrix move among its resellers was mixed. "I'm always concerned when [vendors] change their strategies," said Peter Anderson, CEO of Bayshore Technologies, a Tampa, Fla.-based solution provider and platinum Citrix reseller.

But Anderson noted that his company has seven or eight Citrix-certified engineers and technicians, many in XenApp, and that high level of expertise allows it to easily compete against resellers that are doing little more than fulfillment. "That's our differentiator," he said. "We're known as the most technical [Citrix] partner in Florida."

Anderson seemed willing to give Citrix the benefit of the doubt. "They've always been very channel-driven," he said. His biggest worry right now? "The economy is a bigger concern," he said.

Others backed the policy change. "Now I can generate revenue as soon as a new product is released," said Kennith Rindt, director of strategic alliances, for AEC Group, also a platinum Citrix reseller, in a statement.

Flink said Citrix would like to see all resellers eventually move toward certification. "Their primary value in the market is their expertise," he said. But he added that no vendor partner program could fully govern the level of service that resellers provide to their customers.

Reducing partner certification requirements can backfire, however. In 2007, Hewlett-Packard began allowing HP ProLiant server channel partners to start reselling EVA 4100 storage array systems before getting certified, a move that enraged the vendor's established storage product resellers.

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