Pivotal's Channel Program Has Evolved To Foster A Deep Bench Of Highly Skilled Partners

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About a year-and-a-half ago, Pivotal Software launched a channel program in a bid to shift more business to partners as Cloud Foundry became a staple of enterprise development teams.

Soon after, the leading vendor behind the increasingly ubiquitous open source development platform saw the unique nature of that core product required a novel approach to channel development and enablement, Nick Cayou, Pivotal's vice president of global alliances, told CRN on Friday.

Cayou and Pivotal's channel leaders realized the essential partner was a highly trained integrator that could pick up complex engagements from its own engineers and extend the work across the enterprise. Instead of looking to scale sales through resellers, the channel strategy evolved, resulting months later in an innovative new partner training facility in Boulder, Colo.

[Related: Pivotal Releases Commercial Version Of Concourse, An Internal Continuous Integration Tool Capable Of Rapidly Closing Security Vulnerabilities]

When Pivotal was spun out from EMC and VMware five years ago, as a startup offering a technically sophisticated Platform-as-a-Service in an early stage market, the channel was not considered a crucial vehicle for reaching customers.

"We were largely a direct company with access to traditional reseller channels through the relationship with EMC, our parent company at the time," Cayou said.

As the business matured, however, the need for partners became clear – not so much as a means of reaching new customers but for satisfying the needs of those that had already begun their cloud-native transformations with Pivotal Cloud Foundry.

Pivotal solutions architects would do a lot of the front-end work with clients through the company's consulting arm, Pivotal Labs, to demonstrate "the art of the possible," Cayou said. However, once a few greenfield apps were deployed, clients often pointed out they had hundreds, sometimes thousands, more apps they would like to see re-platformed, challenging the capacity of Pivotal Labs.

"We know when we extricate ourselves from accounts, and bring a partner in if we don’t do it right, that boomerang comes back and hits us in the head," Cayou said.

That dynamic led Pivotal to focus less on the traditional reseller channel, and instead cultivate a network of boutique and global systems integrators. Resources were shifted to training solutions architects, he said.

At the start of this year, Pivotal abandoned an office in Boulder to open a larger facility in the same city, where it based its new Platform Acceleration Lab.

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