Next-Gen Database Developer Couchbase Launches First Partner Program


Next-generation database developer Couchbase launched its first formal partner program Thursday, looking to grow its ecosystem of reseller, consulting and technology partners and provide them with a broad range of incentives, resources and support to expand sales of the Couchbase Data Platform.

Couchbase already works with about 150 partners of various types and today the channel plays a role, either as resellers or deal influencers, in about 15 percent of the software vendor's sales.

"One of the goals we're focused on this year as we launch our PartnerEngage program is to essentially double that," said Matt McDonough, Couchbase vice president of business development, in an interview with CRN.

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Couchbase is one of a number of suppliers of next-generation database software, often called NoSQL (for "not only SQL"), that position themselves as alternatives to relational database software such as the Oracle Database and Microsoft SQL Server.

NoSQL databases are touted as providing superior scalability, performance and agility over relational databases, which originally were designed to process operational transactions and are better able to handle semi-structured and unstructured data such as documents and social media posts.

Last year Couchbase, founded in 2009 and based in Mountain View, Calif., began marketing its software as an "engagement database" because of its suitability for a range of customer engagement and digital transformation applications.

Couchbase is launching the PartnerEngage program because solution providers are gaining more market traction with Couchbase software "and partners are really pushing us to add these new [partner program] components to make them more successful," McDonough said.

He also acknowledged that Couchbase is just reaching a growth stage where it has resources it can invest in a partner program. "We've added a lot of structure to our partner operations," he said.

Couchbase also relies on partners with expertise in specific vertical industries such as credit reporting, broadcasting and travel, counting on them to educate potential customers and develop solutions for specific verticals, McDonough said. "Partners can really help Couchbase take those verticals to the next level," the executive said.

Systems integrators have been particularly successful in marketing the Couchbase system for digital transformation initiatives, customer engagement projects and Internet of Things applications, McDonough said.

Couchbase works with several types of solution provider/go-to-market partners, including global systems integrators (including Accenture, Capgemini and Infosys), regional systems integrators and more traditional VARs and resellers.

The database company also works with what it calls "technology partners," including vendors such as Red Hat and Docker that develop links between their products and the Couchbase software, and OEM partners that develop software with the Couchbase database embedded within.

Data modeling and data governance software developer Erwin is one such technology partner, working with Couchbase on a number of joint development, product integration and go-to-market initiatives. An edition of the Erwin DM NoSQL toolset for Couchbase is set for release in February.

The two companies also jointly work with systems integrators and solution providers "who are putting together solutions [with Couchbase and Erwin software] around big data, data management and digital transformation," said Mariann McDonagh, Erwin's chief marketing officer, in an interview with CRN.

"There's a lot of opportunity here, especially in large accounts," she said, noting that NoSQL is still a relatively new technology. "This new partner program is really perfectly timed for VARs and technology partners to generate new revenue streams and capitalize on the move toward digital transformation," McDonagh said.

Couchbase's McDonough said the company has no specific numerical goal for its partner recruitment efforts, adding the aim is to make sure the vendor has the right mix of partners to cover all regions of North America and the world, and to cover all key vertical markets.

PartnerEngage will consist of two tiers: Registered and Advanced. Registered is the default tier for new partners, who can work toward the Advanced tier by growing their Couchbase sales and their investment in developing Couchbase skills.

Advanced partners, for example, will be required to have Couchbase accredited sales and technical staff, and to work with Couchbase to develop case studies, solution briefs, white papers and reference system architectures, McDonough said.

All partners will have access to the Couchbase partner portal and deal registration system, be listed on the vendor's partner locator page and be eligible for discounts on training.

Solution partners in the Advanced tier also will be eligible for technical and pre-sales support and dedicated training resources, have early access to beta products, be eligible for lead-generation program funds and cross-promotional activities, and have a featured partner page on the Couchbase site, among other offerings.

Technology partners that reach the Advanced tier will have access to many of the same resources. Technology partners won't have the same accredited staff requirements to join the Advanced tier as solution partners.

While Couchbase offers some customer support services, McDonough emphasized that the company has no plans to develop its own professional services organization, instead leaving those opportunities to partners. Couchbase will help solution partners develop their professional services capabilities in technical areas like architecture design consulting, system health checks and SQL development.

"We really want partners to deliver those services," McDonough said. "That's where their real strengths are."

He said the services opportunities for partners often add up to between five and 10 times the subscription value of a Couchbase sale.

Couchbase is also creating a referral program for channel companies that can earn commissions simply for bringing sales opportunities to Couchbase. Those companies can register deals with the vendor and receive 8 percent of the annual contract value and the value of expanded/add-on sales.

In addition to reseller discounts offered to partners, based on program tier and whether a deal is registered, Couchbase is offering an additional discount through 2018 as an added inducement for potential partner recruits.