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Cloudera Looks To Leverage Increasingly Diverse Partner Ecosystem With Revamped Channel Program

Rick Whiting

Today the hybrid data platform developer is launching the Cloudera Partner Network, which uses a new competency-based point system to incentivize and reward partners for their unique skills and go-to-market strategies.

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Hybrid data platform developer Cloudera is undertaking a significant revamp of its partner program in a move to recognize and reward a broader range of channel partners and the way they contribute to the company’s go-to-market efforts.

The new Cloudera Partner Network, unveiled Wednesday, incorporates a new competency-based, points-driven approach and offers an expanded portfolio of tools and resources around sales and marketing, training and enablement, and rebates and rewards.

The new program, which replaces the Cloudera Connect partner program, is also designed to better support partner delivery of the company’s software-as-a-service offerings including the Cloudera Data Platform One (CDP One) data lakehouse that launched in August.

[Related: The Big Data 100 2022]

Cloudera, which went private in 2021, works with a wide range of partners including solution providers, systems integrators and global systems integrators, OEMs, ISVs, MSPs, MSSPs, consultants and professional service companies in the data management and data analytics space.

Many are resellers, co-sellers and reference sellers of Cloudera’s products and nearly all sales deals today involve a partner in some way, said Rachel Tuller, Cloudera head of global partner strategy and alliances, in an interview with CRN.

“I was actually brought in for this specific purpose, to modernize our partner ecosystem and our partner program,” said Tuller (pictured), who joined Cloudera in April 2021. “Almost all of our deals have partners in them and sometimes multiple partners because [Cloudera develops] very complex technology.”

Tuller said the role of partners is evolving as Cloudera’s technology portfolio shifts to a software-as-a-service model with products like CDP One and as the services component of sales deals increases as data workloads increasingly span multiple clouds and on-premises locations.

The new competency-based, points-driven program is designed to reward partners for how they go to market, according to the channel executive, in contrast to the older program that was more driven by sales volume.

“This is an evolution of our partner program to bring some more modern elements to the program,” Tuller said. “We wanted to recognize that within our partner ecosystem, we had a very traditional ‘You fit in this box, you fit in this box’ [approach].

“So if they’re a service provider, if they’re a technical provider, if they have a technology platform built on us, or they want to resell us, we will give them points for all of that,” she said. “If they specialize in a certain vertical or multiple verticals and they have a specialty there, we’ll give them points for that. If they invest in their teams and get them certified and trained and up to speed, we’ll give them points for that. And then the more marketing they do … they‘re generating pipeline and generating demand. We give them points for that as well. So the more that [partners] do with Cloudera, we recognize and reward that and that then turns into financial incentives on the front and back ends if there are deals.”

“As the ecosystem has evolved, and our partners have evolved, Cloudera’s desire is to meet partners where they are, and reward and recognize them for the way they go to market. Cloudera is investing in partners more than ever before,” Tuller said.

The new program is tier-based (Member, Select, Premier and Strategic) and partners move up as they collect points and earn competencies. At each tier, they gain access to exclusive discounts and other member benefits.

“We’ve expanded how we measure the value of the partner,” Tuller said. “It’s not just revenue anymore and it’s not just butts in seats. There’s lots of different ways that partners engage with us and we just want to make sure that that all gets recognized and rewarded.”

The new partner program is more outcome-driven and rewards partners for their expertise, said Baz Khuti, president of Modak U.S.A., the Chicago-based operation of Modak, headquartered in Hyderabad, India. Modak is a leading data engineering services provider that works with customers and Cloudera’s professional services business to develop strategies around the Cloudera platform for working with huge, complex data sets.

Modak’s data expertise is especially deep in the life sciences space and the new program will provide additional recognition for its position in that vertical, Khuti said in an interview with CRN.

“This Cloudera Partner Network, in my view, is really unique in what I call the ‘three Ts’ of partnership: It’s trust, transparency, and transaction. And gluing all that together is this point system,” Khuti said.

Modak and Cloudera bring each other into customer engagements – Modak leverages the vendor’s deal registration system and earns finder’s fees – and a more formal reseller relationship could be in the future, Khuti said.

The improved, partner program also offers new and enhanced sales and marketing tools including a marketing automation platform and asset library; increased financial commitment through new rebate and market development fund programs (with the latter open to all partners, not just top-tier partners); and enhanced partner training and enablement with a dedicated Partner Success Team.

“We’ve invested heavily in systems and tools to make it easy [for partners] to do business with us. We know that we are not the only vendor that our partners work with. With [the new program] we want to be the easiest one,” Tuller said.

Cloudera is also offering new program benefits to support CDP One delivery and a new FastTrack Onboarding Program through which Cloudera is promising a faster time to market for newly recruited partners.

Khuti at Modak, who sits on Cloudera’s partner advisory board, praised Cloudera for its new incentives around partner capabilities and competencies, for providing partner account managers, and for fostering contacts within the company’s sales organization. Cloudera “is incentivizing [Modak] for our competencies we bring to the table and the solutions we enable. I think that’s a key change,” he said.

The elements of the new program are effective starting Feb. 1, 2023, giving partners one calendar quarter of lead time to prepare.

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 rwhiting@thechannelcompany.com.

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