Enterprise Ambition

The majority of the benefits from those funds, the total of which was not disclosed, and other new programs will be aimed at partners with a proven track record of beating EMC, said Mark Gonzalez, Compaq's vice president of North American enterprise storage.

Starting in February, Compaq will allow its 360 authorized enterprise storage solution providers to register potential deals for up to six months to protect them from poaching by other solution providers, Gonzalez said. Larger bonuses will be given if the deal includes Alpha servers.

This month, those solution providers also became eligible for a rebate of more than 5 percent for NAS sales, including new entry-level and midrange NAS products expected next quarter, said Gonzalez.

Up to 50 of Compaq's top partners are in the process of becoming designated as enterprise storage solution specialists, or ESSS, Gonzalez said.

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ESSS partners will receive twice the MDFs of other enterprise VARs and will be able to resell and deliver Compaq storage services, said Gonzalez. Other ESSS programs include training vouchers and access to specialized tech-nical resources for closing major deals, he said.

It's not easy to become an ESSS, a fact that suits Rich Baldwin, president and CEO of San Diego-based Nth Generation Computing, one of the first to get the designation. The process required taking several engineers out of the field for weeks of training and certification classes, and includes high revenue quotas, he said.

"It's really got us excited because [it's something that isn't for the masses," said Baldwin. "I think there's only two or three partners in the West that are actually at that level, which is a lot different than in the past where there might have been 100 or 200 enterprise resellers in the program."

The requirements are tough, but being ESSS-certified proves AMC is one of the best, said Mark Roman-owski, senior vice president of client services and business development for AMC, a New York solution provider that is awaiting certification. "There are a lot of storage resellers out there. But that's the problem. They're resellers, pushing boxes like PCs. If you want to sell a technology solution like [storage, you have to step up to the plate," he said.

Protection for potential deals is important, as it helps ensure that investments in developing a client are not wasted, Roman-owski said. "You have people like me who invest in designing storage with the customer," he said. "Then some stupid purchasing manager goes out and bids for the lowest price."