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Eaton's New Channel Program Stresses Partner Certifications Over Revenue, Adds MSP Planks

The power management vendor will also use this week's Eaton Partner Summit to show off new cybersecurity capabilities, as well as introduce partners to its new High Density managed PDUs.

Data center power management technology developer Eaton plans to open its annual channel partner summit Tuesday with a major shift in its channel program from a focus on revenue to a focus on certifications in determining partner benefits.

The Dublin, Ireland-based company also plans to introduce its foray into the managed services market with the introduction of a new cloud-based platform for helping MSPs build services around power management.

Eaton is also planning to introduce a number of new products to partners, including new platforms with built-in cybersecurity capabilities, and will be showing off its recently-introduced high density managed PDUs.

[Related: Eaton Pushes Partners To Engage In IoT, Edge Computing Power Management]

The Eaton Partner Summit, held this week in Huntington Beach, Calif., is slated to be attended by over 80 channel partner organizations who will also celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the company's Partner Advantage program, said Herve Tardy, vice president and general manager of distributed power quality for the vendor.

The change in focus from revenue levels to the number of certifications a partner has is in part a way to lower the barriers to entry for partners looking to do more with power management, said Sommer Goodknecht, Eaton's channel marketing manager.  

"Before, the program included both revenue targets and training requirements for partners to enter the program or advance," Goodknecht told CRN. "We've now taken away the revenue requirements, and are revamping the training. We're not doing extremely detailed deep dives, but we're touching on the key applications and verticals, and how to take advantage of our programs."

The changes to the Eaton Partner Advantage program make it a more value-based program, Tardy told CRN.

"We don't want to give an unfair advantage to the largest partners out there," Tardy said.

That is an important move for channel partners who want to invest in Eaton, said Kyle Yost, president of En-Net, a Frederick, Md.-based solution provider and Eaton channel partner with a large Federal government focus.

En-Net is one of Eaton's largest channel partners, and has put a lot of investment in its business with the vendor, Yost told CRN.

Historically, Eaton partners who haven't made the same investment in their partnership got the same cost structures as those who invested heavily in Eaton training and certification, he said.

"If you only respond to bids, the revenue-focused channel model is what you want," he said. "But if you are a manufacturer, you want to be sure your partners are driving your technology."

Yost said that maybe 90 percent of companies responding to bids never actually sit in front of the customer. "The Eaton program is now geared to the 10 percent of partners like us," he said. "Eaton wants to get more partners to do this. It might mean more competition for us. But it's the right thing to do."

Eaton is making changes to its platform to make it more suitable to MSPs, including the introduction of its first cloud-based mobile management platform to help MSPs know when customer warranties are about to expire, batteries will need replacing, and so on, Tardy.

"This provides more opportunities for them to generate more revenue," he said.

Eaton is also adding a connector to the ConnectWise MSP platform, said Mike Jackson, product line manager for growth initiatives and distributed power infrastructure at Eaton.

"This will seamlessly integrate our hardware through ConnectWise," Jackson said. "Our IPM (Intelligent Power Manager) will also be integrated into ConnectWise soon. But we will definitely look at other MSP platforms as well."

The new MSP-focused moves are geared towards helping MSPs generate recurring revenue with power management, Jackson said. "This gives them a platform to sell power-as-a-service, and to show value to end users as a way to differentiate their offerings," he said.

On the technology side, Eaton will be showing its new Eaton Gigabit network card, which Tardy called the first UPS network card to receive UL 2900-2-2 cybersecurity certification.

"Cybersecurity is the number one thing people are talking about," he said. "We want to help partners take the risk away from their customers. This is a huge upgrade opportunity for partners."

The new cybersecurity capabilities will be included with all new UPSs sold going forward, and available as an option for customers looking to retrofit existing Eaton USPs, he said.

The conference will also give channel partners a chance to see the new Eaton High Density rack power distribution unit, which was officially unveiled in January, Tardy said

The new Eaton High Density rack PDU builds off the Eaton ePDU G3 power distribution technology, but adds advanced configurability for environments where high power density is required.

The Eaton High Density rack PDU offers 11 different outlet module options with up to 54 outlets per PDU, and brings customers over 20,000 configurable options. Alternative phase outlets help simplify load balancing and improve airflow by making it easier to put outlets where they are needed. The platform also adds 11 color options for easy identification of A/B power feeds.

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