CRN Exclusive: DevOps Tooling Superstar HashiCorp Launches First Channel Program

HashiCorp's technology was born in a college dorm room, but years of steadily ramping enterprise adoption have pushed the company's ever-expanding open source software portfolio into the arms of the channel.

The San Francisco-based startup, which makes tools for provisioning, securing and running a distributed application infrastructure, on Monday introduced its first channel program to cement its enterprise relationships and build new ones.

The HashiCorp Partner Network will have one track for resellers, another for systems integrators (SIs) bringing to market its popular DevOps tools, including Vagrant, Consul, Vault and Terraform.

[Related: Microsoft Commits To Long-Term Development Plan With HashiCorp]

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Like some other open source startups of late, HashiCorp saw SIs implementing its solutions sans any formal alliance, and that made it clear that the company needed to move forward with its channel strategy.

"There are a number of implementation partners that are picking up our products and leveraging those solutions," Jen Murphy, vice president of worldwide channels, told CRN.

"In many cases, we're not aware, and in some cases where we are aware we're not formally helping them through the process," she added.

That will change through the program, which will offer the typical benefits such as resale discounts on its commercial products, deal registration, enablement and certifications.

Driving rapid HashiCorp adoption is the agnostic nature of its tools, which deliver to enterprises consistent workflow for provisioning and securing infrastructure from multiple public cloud providers, said Jay Fry, HashiCorp's head of marketing.

"Large enterprises are not just moving to one cloud, but several usually, and pursuing a multi-cloud strategy. That gives them pricing leverage and helps them find the right cloud for the right applications," Fry told CRN.

Those enterprises are "leaning on partners quite heavily," he said, so it's "logical that we're going to spend a lot of time with those partners to help them help our joint customers make those moves, especially around cloud automation."

Murphy said the reseller program was motivated not only by VARs reaching out to HashiCorp, but also their customers, "who wanted to purchase through a reseller."

The reseller program will be tiered, with discounts and deal registration tied to sales volume.

And while HashiCorp has worked extensively in the past with many SIs, the integrator program adds entirely new training and certification opportunities, not only in product knowledge, but in project knowledge, Murphy said.

"The goal is to help [partners] understand what we've seen to help them clearly articulate projects and use cases," she said.

Last year, HashiCorp founder Mitchell Hashimoto told CRN the company that started with a project of his in college, the Vagrant tool for managing virtual development environments, eventually would formalize its channel strategy.

"We're slowly growing out more and more of what we do with partners," Hashimoto said.

At the time, a few dozen SIs were already certified for working with his tools.

"They're how we reach the rest of the world with a level of support and understanding," Hashimoto said of those integrators.

But HashiCorp was waiting for the right moment to actually launch a program, said Murphy, wanting to make sure the maturation of its infrastructure and customer demand were where they needed to be.

"We've reached the point where the answer is yes to both questions," Murphy said.

Chris Ciborowski, CEO of Nebulaworks, an inaugural member of the HashiCorp Partner Network, told CRN that HashiCorp tools can do what legacy configuration management products can't, and what cloud-specific solutions won't—enable partners to automatically scaffold infrastructure across multiple cloud providers.

Nebulaworks has been working with HashiCorp's open source tools since they've been available, starting with Vagrant, and now doing the bulk of that business through Terraform, a multi-cloud infrastructure management tool; and Vault, which secures tokens, certificates and passwords.

"For us, they're key components to build distributed infrastructure and applications," Ciborowski said of the startup's portfolio.

Nebulaworks, based in Irvine, Calif., was HashiCorp's first North American training partner, recognizing demand for education around its products, he said.

But the maturation of the channel program adds new opportunities to drive revenue, including reselling licenses for enterprise versions of those products.

And as an SI, being certified through the program sets Nebulaworks apart in a market crowded with companies claiming expertise.

"A lot of folks out there are talking a pretty good game. For us, having been vetted and being a part of that program, that badge and that distinction, and putting my team through the paces on what's required, it helps us build a stronger relationship with HashiCorp and our customers," Ciborowski said.

More verification reduces the risk for customers, who are always gambling with digital transformation projects, he said.