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GitLab Introduces First Channel Program To Drive DevOps Alliances

The breakout startup is looking to ramp engagement with resellers, services providers and tech partners as enterprises rapidly adopt its comprehensive DevOps platform.

GitLab rolled out its first formal channel program Tuesday as the rapidly growing DevOps startup looks to ramp engagement with resellers, services providers and ISVs ahead of a public stock offering.

The new partner program was “designed to expose the tremendous growth opportunity in the DevOps market,” said Michelle Hodges, vice president of global channel, who was hired in January to drive channel strategy.

Since then, Hodges has been investing in building out a comprehensive team, with staff dedicated to programs, operations, channel marketing, solutions architecture and a channel help desk—the foundation for a structured program aimed at enabling partner growth.

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

The GitLab Partner Program is consistent across all partner types, and, in the ethos of the open source movement it supports with its Git repository, open to all resellers and services providers, Hodges told CRN.

The program opts for a non-traditional approach, with no tiered structure determined by retroactive sales thresholds.

There are three tracks: Open to all resellers, integrators and services providers; Select for DevOps experts making substantial investments in building out a strategic relationship; and Technology for ISVs to participate in incentives through product integrations.

Through rebates, discounts and referral fees, the goal is to incent partners in identifying new customers or delivering new services that allow existing ones to gain more value from GitLab’s platform, which incorporates capabilities spanning the DevOps lifecycle, Hodges said.

With the new program, GitLab launched its first partner portal with deal registration and pipeline tracking features. The badging accreditations will start with sales and solution architecture, Hodges said.

The GitLab Partner Program is rooted in a go-to-market strategy GitLab first implemented in its public sector business—one that this year became entirely channel driven.

“We’re focused on relationships,” Hodges said. “Let’s invest in companies that are wanting to invest in us, and our customers, but keeping it wide open so anyone can contribute.”

2nd Watch, a leading cloud solutions provider based in Seattle, partnered with GitLab in August, and now is both reselling the startup’s products and bundling its DevOps toolchain into its own managed services.

“Last month, over very short time, we were able to work with GitLab, build up that partner engagement with them, and build in an MSP structure so we could launch our managed DevOps offering based on technology from GitLab,” Stefana Muller, 2nd Watch’s senior product manager for DevOps & Migration, told CRN.

What started as a basic reseller relationship has quickly evolved to a level of support that 2nd Watch doesn’t see from other ISVs, including assistance with marketing and GitLab sales agents bringing the solution provider into calls to make sure they’re in lockstep when approaching clients, Muller said.

“Many enterprises want a customized version of GitLab and that’s something 2nd Watch can do. And they’re able to support us when we’re already on site with a client,” Muller said.

One of GitLab’s closest ISV partners, DevOps standout HashiCorp, sees potential to ramp its own channel engagement through the Technology track of GitLab’s new program.

“We’ve been working with them for a while,” said HashiCorp Vice President for Product Marketing Amith Nair. “But what the program changes is the ecosystem of partners they’re bringing in both from a technology standpoint and a channel one. It will help customers be successful in this DevOps space.”

HashiCorp uses GitLab for its internal CI/CD management processes, and it sees many customers that use its own popular DevOps tools like Terraform and Vault integrated with GitLab’s platform, Nair said.

As an open program not based on any tiered system, the GitLab Partner Program will pull in more channel partners, which translates to more customers for both vendors.

“Together we can tell a better story as we get more SI and channel partners bringing to market the combined solution,” Nair told CRN.

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