Nutanix Fires Up First Formal Partner Program

Steve Kaplan

Converged infrastructure vendor Nutanix this week unveiled its first formal channel program in a move aimed at offering a more professional and consistent level of support as both it and its partner base continues to grow.

The introduction of the Nutanix Partner Network comes a few weeks after the vendor released its latest converged compute and storage solutions including the NX-6000, which allows storage capacity to be scaled as needed for large data sets, and the NX-1000k, designed for small and midsize businesses or enterprise branch offices.

Nutanix works exclusively through an indirect channel base that includes about 270 solution providers in North America in addition to others overseas, said Steve Kaplan, vice president of channels and strategic sales.

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Until now, Nutanix has worked with channel partners in an informal manner, Kaplan said. "This is our first official channel program with deal registration, a partner portal, and all the pieces in place to support a professional channel," he said.

The Nutanix Partner Network rollout is a welcomed move, said Vic Verola, vice president of sales and a partner at Vicom Computer Services, a New York-based solution provider and a Nutanix partner for the past 18 months.

"The reality is, Nutanix is at the point now where they need a real channel program," Verola said. "They're starting to become a serious player in the converged infrastructure market."

By introducing a formal program, Nutanix is helping to alleviate a major concern of Vicom, Verola said.

"My concern is that Nutanix might get overdistributed," he said. "They need a formal program to handle all the new partners coming in."

The Nutanix Partner Network is a tiered channel program to which all of Nutanix's channel partners will be expected to join, said Michele Taylor-Smith, senior director of channel marketing for the vendor.

Partners can range from those fully committed to Nutanix to those who happen to bring the vendor the right deal on a one-time basis, Taylor-Smith said.

"Participation can range from opportunistic -- we are looking at one-time deal registrations in some cases -- to Elite partners who enjoy full benefits," she said.

The Nutanix Partner Network offers partners three tiers of requirements and benefits, depending on their certification and revenue commitments, Kaplan said.

NEXT: Getting Certified For The Nutanix Partner Network

Nutanix offers three types of certifications.

The Nutanix Platform Sales Representative certification can be achieved with about two hours of online training followed by a test. The Nutanix Platform Sales Engineer certification requires the same two hours of training and an additional two hours specific to the technology. Partners looking for the highest level of certification, the Nutanix Platform Professional, will be required to attend a two-day formal training program.

While several larger storage vendors are starting to move away from using revenue to determine at which level a partner works in their channel programs, revenue is important in determining the level of market development funds, discounts and rebates for which a partner might qualify, Kaplan said.

The highest level in the Nutanix Partner Network is Elite status, which is offered to partners by invite only, Kaplan said.

"This recognizes partners who are doing an outstanding job with Nutanix," he said. "Revenue is a criteria for Elite status but is far from the most important one. For partners getting certified, there's no reason they can't be doing a lot of work with Nutanix."

Verola said Vicom expects to be an Elite-level partner with Nutanix. "We've sent our guys on ride-alongs with Nutanix SEs to do implementation, and 15 of our 20 outbound sales reps are trained on Nutanix," he said.

In addition to Nutanix, Vicom works with IBM's Pure line of converged infrastructure offerings, Verola said. The solution provider typically sells and deploys the IBM solution when working with customers with a heavy IBM focus while offering the Nutanix solution to new customers developed on its own.

"When we go into a customer on our own, we see Nutanix as a VDI play," he said. "If we need a simple way to add VDI to a customer's solutions, we go with Nutanix. The majority of Nutanix partners we know find the way to enter an account is on the virtual desktop side. There is some cloud. But mainly via virtual desktops."