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Splunk Introduces New Channel Chief To Its Partners, Plans Additional Partner Incentives And Rebates

New channel program track for systems integrators also highlight Splunk's Partner Summit this week.

Big data software developer Splunk is rolling out a number of channel program additions and expansions this week, including a new program track for systems integrator partners and new rebate incentives for solution providers.

The announcements come at Splunk's Global Partner Summit in Las Vegas where channel partners are getting their first chance to size up Aziz Benmalek who took the reins earlier this month as the company's new channel chief.

"This is a very exciting place to be in a time of great transformation for our customers," Benmalek said of his decision to join Splunk. "Data and AI are at the center of a lot of this digital transformation and Splunk is at the center of this with its technology, products, vision and leadership in this space."

[Related: The 20 Coolest Cloud Software Vendors Of The 2019 Cloud 100]

Benmalek joined Splunk in early February as vice president, worldwide partners and channel chief, reporting to Susan St. Ledger, president of worldwide field operations. He replaced Cheryln Chin who left the company last year.

A 30-year industry veteran, Benmalek came to Splunk from Microsoft where he worked for more than 22 years, most recently as vice president of worldwide cloud and managed service providers, managing an ecosystem of some 30,000 service provider partners.

Splunk develops software used to collect and analyze machine data for a range of purposes including IT management, security and business analytics. More recently the vendor's software is playing a role in business AI and machine learning initiatives.

Benmalek, in a pre-conference interview with CRN, said he joined Splunk because of the company's "technology, product, vision and leadership" in big data and AI, critical components of the digital transformation wave that's sweeping many businesses. After so many years working at Microsoft, he also cited the opportunity to work at a fast-growing mid-size company.

While Benmalek said he is still working to familiarize himself with Slunk's product portfolio and its channel operations, he intends to continue diversifying the company's ecosystem of resellers, systems integrators, ISVs, MSPs and technology partners. His goals include helping partners expand the value they add to Splunk's products through value-added services and solutions for specific vertical industries, and enlisting additional partners as Splunk continues its transition to a subscription sales/cloud delivery model.

More than 550 partners are attending the Partner Summit, part of Splunk's annual sales kickoff meeting, according to Brooke Cunningham, area vice president, global partner programs, marketing and operations, in an interview.

At the Partner Summit Splunk is rolling out the details of its new program framework for global and regional systems integrator partners with partner requirements, incentives and benefits.

The program will include a business investment fund that will help systems integrators build solutions and services around Splunk's software. Cunningham noted that Accenture recently developed a retail analytics system for grocery store chains that incorporates Splunk's technology.

Splunk also will introduce additional rebates for partners who shift customers from software license sales to subscription sales – a major initiative for the vendor. Also new are rebates for partners who build professional services around Splunk software and rebates for top-tier partners who exceed growth targets.

Splunk now has about 1,700 active partners, up from about 1,600 one year earlier, Cunningham said, and the company continues to recruit partners where it needs solution providers in specific geographies or with specific technical or vertical industry expertise.

Software sale bookings through the channel increased 51 percent in Splunk's just-finished (Jan. 31) fiscal 2019, according to Cunningham, and partner deal registrations reached 14,000 during the year – up 63 percent year over year.

Splunk offers partners a rebate for bringing in new customers and that has paid off with 76 percent of Splunk's new customers coming through the channel in fiscal 2019. "So our partners are really the growth engine for new customers," Cunningham said.

Partners also racked up 11,000 new Splunk-related certifications during the year, Cunningham said, and a recent partner profitability survey found that for every $1 in Splunk software license sales partners generate $6.30 in additional services or complementary products and solutions. And partners recorded a 31 percent gain in professional service days for customer projects during the year.

The Partner Summit also comes after Splunk announced Feb. 19 that it had hired Carrie Palin as senior vice president and chief marketing officer, overseeing the company's global marketing strategy. Palin previously worked as CMO at email delivery service SendGrid, and before that held marketing posts at Box and IBM.

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