Any solution provider will tell you that the IT industry isn't just in a state of transition today -- that's a given -- but in a state of accelerated transition. Cloud computing, mobility, big data, subscription-based pricing, the services-led channel model, and other technologies and trends are remaking the IT industry.
Talk to solution provider executives about IT vendors and their channel programs and a common theme develops: the need for IT companies to work with their channel partners to help them navigate these seismic changes.
"The landscape is changing faster than it ever has," said Mark Wyllie, CEO of Flagship Solutions Group, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based solution provider. Case in point: Flagship is a longtime IBM partner and was a reseller of that company's x86-based servers. But with the business sold to Lenovo last year, Wyllieis now awaiting upcoming meetings with Lenovo executives to hear about their channel plans.
[Related: 2015 Partner Programs Guide Database]
"Everybody is in transition," said Ric Opal, vice president with Peters & Associates, an Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based solution provider that partners with Microsoft, Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard and other companies. "I need to know where I stand as a partner with my vendors."
To borrow a concept from Facebook, what's the status of your relationship with your IT vendors? One way to check is to take a look at the CRN 2015 Partner Program Guide, a listing of IT manufacturers, software publishers and service companies. The Partner Program Guide offers solution providers the information they need to evaluate IT vendors they already work with or are considering partnering with. The guide is based on detailed applications vendors submitted outlining all aspects of their partner programs. All applicants are listed on the following pages, along with a sampling of the market segment specializations they selected on their applications.
The Channel Company's research team analyzed the numbers and designated some programs as 5-Star Partner Programs. That rating recognizes an elite subset of Partner Program Guide applicants that offer solution providers key partnering elements in their channel programs.