Intel Revamps Partner Levels

Intel rolled out the program on July 1, according to Shirley Turner, director of North American distribution and channel marketing at the company. It pulls Intel's once-separate VAR program into the fold and sets qualification levels for Premier Providers, she said. Previously, Premier Providers were admitted to membership on an invite-only basis.

One large system builder, who requested anonymity, was pleased that Intel is standardizing qualification for Premier Partner status, "It seemed arbitrary who Intel was choosing as a Premier Provider," he said.

Still, Intel's latest program changes don't address one issue some system builders have been pestering the chip maker about: giving small partners program credit for buying through larger system builders.

Turner acknowledged that some system builders have been asking for smaller VARs to receive credit for buying products through them. Currently, program credit is earned only when purchasing through an authorized Intel distributor. But she said Intel is not ready to roll out such an option.

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Though happy with the Premier Provider change, the system builder said when partners don't get credit for buying through large system builders, sales can be lost to authorized distributors. But he also acknowledged that tracking such purchases would be difficult for Intel, Santa Clara, Calif.

As part of the new program, VARs will be classified in three tracks: Premier, Associate and Registered. To qualify for the top level, Premier, solution providers need to sell one of the following per year: $250,000 in desktop products, $200,000 in server products, $100,000 in mobile products or $250,000 in products from all categories combined, Turner said. The Associate level replaces the "active" members and now requires that 50 Intel products be sold per year, vs. 10 per quarter. Associates get access to enhanced technical support as well as their own branded logo for the first time. Registered partners get access to Intel product information and training.

VARs who buy or recommend Intel-based systems will move to Intel's Technology Provider track. Intel still is working out details of benefits and its Web site said it will launch officially in September.

One small system builder, who requested anonymity, said that the more stringent requirements could push some system builders that don't qualify for higher levels to rival Advanced Micro Devices, Sunnyvale, Calif., which has been working to grab more market share.