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Hortonworks Launches Partner Program, Aims To Double Channel Participation This Year And Next

While Hortonworks continues to recruit partners, the main goal of the new program is to give current partners more opportunities, channel chief Chris Sullivan tells CRN.

Hortonworks, one of the leading companies in the booming market for big data software, this week launched a new channel partner program the company hopes will accelerate its growth and that of its 1,600-strong partner ecosystem.

The new Partnerworks global partner program offers the software company's reseller, ISV/IHV, and consulting partners a broad range of training, certification, technical support, and sales and marketing resources.

"Our partners have been instrumental to our success and we are taking our commitment to our ecosystem to the next level," said Chris Sullivan, vice president of global channels and alliances, who joined Hortonworks in October from VCE where he was the company's channel chief.

[Related: Hortonworks Acquires Data Collection Technology Startup, Debuts DataFlow Software]

Hortonworks develops a number of software products for managing huge volumes of data using the open-source Hadoop big data platform, including the company's Hadoop-based Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP) and Hortonworks Data Flow (HDF) software.

Founded in 2011, Hortonworks went public in December 2014 and reported $86.5 million in revenue for the first three quarters of 2015.

Most big data startups have focused on selling their products directly to a small number of early adopter customers. But as their technology matures, vendors often turn to the channel to expand their sales horizons and broaden their customer base.

"We're really at an inflection point," Sullivan acknowledged. While declining to disclose how much of Hortonworks' sales involve a partner today, he said the goal is to "double the channel participation" this year over 2015 and then double it again in 2017.

Hortonworks partners include resellers; ISVs who build applications and solutions around the Hortonworks platform; IHVs who certify the software for their hardware platforms; and consultants and systems integrators that provide system design and deployment services. Sullivan said the company's partner roster is fairly evenly distributed among the categories, but plans call for more investment in resellers this year.

Sullivan began developing the program when he joined Hortonworks, Santa Clara, Calif. While the company had some partner program elements in place before now, he said the Partnerworks program is so comprehensive that it's being treated as a new program launch and not just an upgrade.

The company unveiled the program this week at the vendor's annual sales and partner kickoff event with some 200 partners in attendance.

While Hortonworks continues to recruit additional partners, Sullivan said the main goal of Partnerworks is to provide current partners with more opportunities and make them more successful.

"To meet Hortonworks' own growth targets, we need to accelerate our partner opportunities," he said.

That resonates with partners like Ernst & Young, the consulting and systems integration giant. The company "continues to work with Hortonworks to develop and deploy industry-relevant, advanced data solutions that can help our valued clients realize improved profitability, enhanced operational efficiency and gain a better competitive place in the market," said Saj Usman, an Ernst & Young principal and analytics leader in EY Americas, in a statement.

The alliance with Hortonworks, Usman said, helps customers "quickly mine data and convert [it] into actionable intelligence, real-time collaboration and monitoring, and enabling a 360-degree view of a customer."

Partnerworks has multiple tiers, from community involvement to Platinum, which Sullivan described as appropriate to each category. And he said the value of the incentives of each tier has been increased, although he declined to disclose specifics.

"There was not enough value in the tiers to provide what I thought we needed to be providing our partners," he said.

The programs offer extensive partner training and certification in Hortonworks HDP and HDF products, as well as in their use in specific industries such as financial services and oil and gas exploration. Also offered are sales enablement and marketing resources and post-sales support.

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