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D2IQ Is Ready To Ramp Channel Engagement With Its First Partner Program

Having rebranded and refocused on Kubernetes in 2019, the innovative container-tech startup previously called Mesosphere looks to recruit DevOps-focused solution providers with a 'landing pad' for cloud-native modernization projects.

After executing a shift in branding and focus, D2IQ is ready to engage the channel in a way the container-tech startup has never done before.

Known as Mesosphere until last August, the innovative company transformed in 2019 to build on its core strength of helping organizations implement containerized architectures and big data workloads at scale while adding emphasis on Kubernetes, a technology that rivals the one its founders created.

When Joe Taborek joined as chief revenue officer six months ago, he saw that it wasn't just branding and technological focus that needed to change at the San Francisco-based startup, but also channel engagement.

[Related: The 10 Hottest Kubernetes Tools And Technologies Of 2019]

"We had some channel and partner success, probably in spite of ourselves," Taborek, a former sales executive at Accenture, told CRN. "But I was not satisfied with how the program was set up. It was pretty immature."

A couple of weeks ago, D2IQ introduced its first formal partner program with new on-boarding mechanisms, deal registration incentives and partner enablement paths.

With the new program in place, Taborek and his team are busy recruiting partners, especially those who specialize in DevOps and DevSecOps consulting and cloud-native modernization projects.

D2IQ, with its container and big data offerings, gives partners a software platform "to land those customer projects on," Taborek told CRN.

Mesosphere was founded by the creators of the open-source Mesos container orchestrator—a technology that has been deployed to handle some heavy-duty containerized workloads at places like Twitter, Airbnb and eBay.

"Mesos is still the best product in the world to do certain things," Taborek said. "But the market spoke loudly."

Kubernetes, a competing container orchestrator that sprung out of Google, became a de facto standard, forcing Mesosphere to change its name and its strategy.

Mesosphere, however, was never all about Mesos.

Its flagship product that launched six years ago, the Data Center Operating System, or DC/OS, integrated a lot of open-source container and big data technologies with expertise deploying them at scale for online services giants and other large customers.

With the rebranding to D2IQ—spoken internally as "Day 2 IQ" to reflect the focus on ongoing management of production deployments—the company introduced Ksphere, a stand-alone Kubernetes platform.

At the same time, D2IQ repositioned Mesosphere as its Mesos-oriented product incorporating the innovations of the DC/OS platform. Rounding out the portfolio is Datasphere, a platform that implements staple data services like Kafka, Spark and Cassandra.

Those solutions all emphasize the "industrial nature of running containers at scale," Taborek told CRN.

Heading into 2020 with a revamped product suite featuring a clear Kubernetes platform, D2IQ plans to tilt its go-to-market model away from direct sales, Taborek said.

In North America, the company currently sees just more than 20 percent of bookings through partners, and in Europe slightly more than 50 percent. But Taborek aims to realize the majority of global sales through the channel.

"We very much want to grow the business on the back of partners," he said, adding enterprises running Kubernetes at production scale want a trusted solution provider to support their cloud-native infrastructure.

D2IQ believes Ksphere delivers to partners a unique advantage over other managed Kubernetes services because it stays close to the open-source project while incorporating two homegrown technologies, Konvoy and Kommander, that enable rapid deployment and federated management.

"Red Hat and Pivotal have become increasingly proprietary over time," he said of two prominent Kubernetes vendors. (Red Hat was acquired by IBM this year, and Pivotal by VMware.)

Taborek told CRN that channel program development and partner engagement has been his top focus since joining the company. The next step, he said, will be hiring a channel chief to further advance those efforts.

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