Okta Unveils Partner Program To Deepen Ties With Best Of Channel


Okta has introduced a new partner program that provides a larger discount to solution providers that are doing more business with the enterprise identity vendor.

The San Francisco, Calif.-based company said that it historically has offered resellers a fixed margin regardless of the amount of business they were doing with Okta, according to Patrick McCue, SVP of worldwide partners. But with the new Okta Partner Connect program, McCue said solution providers that engage throughout the cycle will get more of a discount than those who are just registering leads.

"The more you invest, the more you'll get out of it," McCue told CRN exclusively.

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Up until now, McCue said Okta hasn't tiered its commitments and benefits, meaning that all partners were under the same contracting mechanism. As a result, McCue said there wasn't any reciprocal benefit derived by partners that went through the training and certifications.

In addition, McCue said solution providers have historically focused more on registering deals, with the vendor handling much of the actual resale itself. But now, partners can earn more discount by signing up net new customers, conducting a demo with a prospect, completing a proof of concept with a customer, and landing multi-year discount, with higher margins available if the partners sells the deal themselves.

Resellers under one-time agreements with the company will probably earn a little less under Okta Partner Connect, but McCue said solution providers engaging deeply with the company will enjoy significantly higher margins than they did in the past. Plus channel partners that bring on a solutions engineer will be entitled to an additional percentage of each deal, according to McCue.

Okta Partner Connect will categorize solution providers into three tiers based on revenue and certification attainment: select, premier, and elite. Select partners need to have $100,000 in annual sales, five active customers, and one sales accreditation, according to McCue.

Premier partners, meanwhile, are expected to have $750,000 in annual sales, 10 active customers, and three sales accreditations, McCue said. And elite partners should have $2 million in annual sales, 15 active customers, and five sales accreditations, according to McCue.

Partners that are new to Okta or have less than $100,000 of annual revenue will be placed in a separate associate tier, which McCue said provides them with access to training and marketing materials as well as information about the competitive landscape. Associates are allowed to make referrals for Okta products, McCue said, but can't actually resell them.

Solution providers at the select level or higher have access to Okta for Partners, which McCue said entitles them to free internal use licenses for up to 5 applications and 25 employees. Having Okta on their mobile devices will make it easier for partners to demonstrate to prospects how they leverage and user the company's technology everyday, according to McCue.

Partners will gain access to more co-marketing funds and a more prominent position and description on Okta's website as they move from select to premier or premier to elite, according to McCue. Premier and elite solution providers, meanwhile, will have access to joint whitepapers and joint webinar series that Okta simply couldn't scale to its entire partner community, McCue said.

And direct access to Okta's development team will be reserved exclusively for elite partners, according to McCue. Okta will begin rolling out the program and assigning partners to a tier in October, McCue said, and expects to fully complete that process by Jan. 31, 2019.

Hayley Roberts, CEO of Manchester, England-based Distology, said she is pleased that Okta Partner Connect will reward solution providers that are ahead of the game and show commitment and dedication. Roberts said Okta has become more relevant in the U.K. market as adoption of cloud technologies grows, which in turn has driven more awareness and interest from the channel.

"I think it's a great thing what they're doing," Roberts said. "They're making sure they reward good behavior and dedication and resource allocation."

The new program should also encourage partners to move beyond just the license sale and service customers using their own technical resources, according to Roberts. This is turn should allow Okta's internal technical team to focus more on software development rather than supporting customers, Roberts said.

"The partner program will really help with management," Roberts said. "It's going to reward that commitment and energy and activity."