20 Innovative Partner Program Updates Channel Chiefs Are Proud Of

The Name Of The Game: Innovation

The technology industry is changing at a blinding pace and to survive, IT vendors need to constantly innovate. With enterprise customers looking to keep their environments up to snuff with the latest and greatest technologies, vendors need cutting-edge solution provider partners with the chops to keep pace.

So what innovative moves are today's tech vendors making to ensure they keep their partners, and in turn their customers, happy?

As part of the 2016 Channel Chiefs project, CRN asked participants to shed some light on the most innovative initiatives their companies rolled out for their partners in 2016.

Barracuda Networks

Michael Hughes

SVP, Worldwide Sales

Barracuda's largest channel innovation came in the form of strengthening its partner program to accelerate profitability for loyal partners, and to attract new, motivated partners. This significant adjustment establishes global consistency with more levels for greater participation, and rewards partner loyalty at each of the new levels – Premier, Preferred, Authorized and Registered.

Barracuda also expanded deal registration to include more product models to reward partner-generated opportunities. Partners now benefit from increased discounts for certain product families and receive an increased NFR purchase limit to use towards solutions in their own networks and for training. Additionally, Barracuda now officially provides an MSP Program for approved and qualified partners by expanding partner services for Barracuda NG Firewall and Barracuda Backup.

Cisco Systems

Sandra Flinders

Sr. Director, Worldwide Services Partner Programs

At the 2015 Cisco Partner Summit, my team introduced the new roles-based software program designed to enable partners to build out critical capabilities needed to help customers in their digital transformation. In this program, both services and product teams will unify to deliver a framework to help partners grow and monetize their software business, and be rewarded for performance.

The program will provide a platform for Cisco to:

Recruit and maintain healthy, profitable partners.

Respond to evolving customer needs.

Remove complexity and drive loyalty.

Build and identify new capabilities for partners.

To date, 200+ integrator and consultant partners have participated in a Cisco Software pilot program across multiple offers, and more than 130 Lifecycle Advisor partners have received adoption training.

Citrix Systems

Tammy Richards

Managing Director, Worldwide Channels

We unveiled Citrix Workspace Cloud, a revolutionary partner-first cloud services model, through which partners can architect and manage deployments, workflows, secure app and data delivery with a beautifully simple management control plane making use of on-premise, off-site, private, public or hybrid clouds. This is a first for the channel. With this model, we're giving partners the opportunity to add significant value-added services and ongoing opportunities for customer engagement to build enduring consultative relationships. The Citrix Specialist tracks introduced over the course of 2015 have been wildly successful and have increased partner profitability, excited partners' sales teams and driven new paths to success as partners can validate their expertise to customers with stringent requirements like government and financial institutions.

Additionally, we're honing our focus, company-wide, on products that are channel-ready for both mid-market and enterprise customers with simplified routes to success and greater profitability for partners and their sales teams. That's how we define success.


Ryan Gruening

Director, Worldwide Channels

In 2015, we shifted our focus from rewarding partner organizations to recognizing sales reps that are investing in Code42. Our partner program has evolved and a rep-by-rep strategy is essential for success and keeping Code42 top-of-mind. This year, we launched the Code42 Peak Performers program to reward top-performing reps for building pipeline and closing deals. Partner sales reps join the program by achieving specific thresholds around deal size, quantity and revenue. Code42's CAMs receive weekly reports indicating which reps qualify (or nearly qualify) for the program in order to celebrate them or push them to achieve.

Partner reps enter the program at a silver level, receiving Code42 gear and an exclusive invitation to Code42's Partner Hub, where they compete against other reps by completing surveys, sharing Code42 content on social media and reviewing the latest product and training information. Points are earned for completed "challenges" and redeemed for prizes.

As partners close deals and add pipe, they reach the program's gold and platinum levels, earn better prizes and more recognition. A rep-by-rep strategy enables us to focus on the right reps, build buzz around Code42, create an army of advocates, and ultimately drive more revenue for us and our partners.

Concerto Cloud Services

Steve Terp


The biggest impact this year in the organization has been enhancing our channel partner enablement engine. We are focusing on a personalized approach with each partner to ensure that what we are providing them is key to their business drivers. We launched a refreshed partner portal that houses enablement, as well as offers them a strong workshop that drives the key cloud questions their customers should be asking around cost/profitability and subscription/consumption-based business decision-making capabilities.

Other innovations include enhancing our investment in the partner program around MDF, demo environments and POC modules. As well as developing a comprehensive lead passing engine that efficiently enables us to work with those who have the intent and desire to find a cloud services provider.


Ed Walton

VP, Channel, Alliances

The launch of Cradlepoint University (CPU) and the integration into our Partner Connect Portal enables our partners to get training certifications across the solution portfolio. We will continue to invest and enhance the CPU allowing partners to access the latest news, status of deal registrations, technical training, support, marketing & sales tools, programs & promotions, and much more.

Sales training on specific vertical segments like K-12 allow our partners to grow revenues significantly as we align our solution bundles, materials, training and field support to help drive strategic growth initiatives of our partners. We also established a Partner Advisory Council (PAC), which represents a cross section of our most strategic partners that meet quarterly and provide feedback on Cradlepoint overall, what trends they're seeing in the market and how we can better enable our Partner Community.

F5 Networks

Keith McManigal

Regional VP, Channel Sales, Americas

Among the most frequently received requests from our partner executives is to not radically change our programs because they are happy with them. The biggest innovation for F5 this year was rolling out a Renewal Incumbency program that rewards partners who sell products to our customers rather than just selling support contracts. We want our partners to have a financial incentive beyond the original sale.


Jon Bove

Sr. Director, U.S. Channels

Fortinet's Cyber Threat Analysis Program, launched in 2015, has made the biggest impact on our partner community. The program, designed to offer clients threat and network utilization assessments, produces detailed reporting that can not only be immediately acted upon, but often because of the detail that is revealed, can elevate the sale from a point product to c-level or board room conversation. It has lead to increased deal size and margins for our partners.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Kerry Bailey

SVP, Worldwide Indirect Sales

In light of the 2015 separation, the HP, and subsequently the HPE, Channel teams emphasized innovations that would directly and noticeably speed the partner transition around our four Transformation Areas and to improve the ease with which our partners – particularly those in the SMB space – can do business with us.

These innovative new approaches and resources for our partners were found across many of our 2015 program roll-outs, but most notably via the continued deployment of the HP/HPE Unison Partner Portal, the launch of a dramatically enhanced Partner Locator tool online and the development of a partner marketplace platform.

Hyland Software

Bill Kavanaugh

Director, U.S., Canada Channel Sales

This year past year, we implemented a team-based support model for our channel partners. Teams consist of inside sales, account representatives and account managers - as well as members of the extended channel team. The team approach has enabled us to provide a more holistic support mechanism for our partners – from deal registration, deal support, deal closing and deal administration.


Todd Garrigues


The creation of vertical specialty benefits and expansion of vertical trainings to provide partners with more resources and competitive differentiator in their markets. For channel partners, the benefits include a specific focus on their verticals and opening up paths to market designed to help grow their business and make them more profitable. We also significantly expanded our use of social media as an engagement tool which included two virtual trade shows that attracted a total of 4,000 partners in order to reach those that are unable to make our yearly events worldwide.

Juniper Networks

Peter Crowcombe

Sr. Director, Global Partner Marketing

In 2015, we introduced Marketing for Business Growth, a key element of our Partnering for Business Growth program. Marketing for Business Growth is built on three pillars; Educate, Equip and Grow.

We added more training in marketing basics and techniques. We added new, one-and-a-half day courses to our Marketing Academy and several new marketing training modules to our continued marketing education curriculum. We also made the modules available via mobile devices.

To equip partners, we revamped the Juniper Marketing Concierge into a stronger demand generator that includes personalized assets and campaigns, as well as live marketing resources to help partners market with Juniper. These marketing concierges are available to help create personalized campaigns, help partners nurture leads and build pipeline.

To grow their businesses, we provided more help selling Juniper products, including access to a range of technical use cases to help demonstrate the effectiveness of Juniper products in a customer's environment. We also are offering vertically focused case studies and how-to documents to help partners solve customer problems.


Sammy Kinlaw

Executive Director, North America Channel Chief

One Lenovo was our effort to unify the legacy PC and System X server business under a single set of programs and incentives for a 'one-stop shop' from data center servers to tablets.

One Sales Coverage Model: We've developed an integrated sales team which is positioned to assist you with all products, through all routes. This collaboration effort will provide tighter alignment and deeper engagement, with an emphasis on driving growth.

One Set of Programs: System x and legacy Lenovo programs are now unified and payable from $1 on all TopSeller models.

One Distribution Model: We offer an open and competitive Distribution model where you can purchase all products, anywhere, anytime. We are setting a new standard providing a single route for purchase, finance and warranty across all solutions.

One Portfolio: A newly consolidated portfolio provides you the opportunity to transcend from a traditional hardware provider to a solutions integrator, offering significant value to your customers, greater margin in attached services, and supporting longer term relationships.

Nimble Storage

Alvin DaCosta

Sr. Director, Field, Channel Marketing

The most innovative initiative that I've led for Nimble's partners would be the trade-in program. I designed and executed this program to allow partners to replace older storage units with the Nimble Adaptive Flash platform. For partners using incumbent storage vendors, the program uses a distributor to offer fair market value for trading in the equipment, and then provides that back into the account in the form of a discount to sell the product line. The program also benefits Nimble, as we acquire additional profits by reselling the product line and do not carry the asset on our books. This gives us an opportunity to

repurpose and receive funds from old equipment for market development and to grow our business. The program also gives us a leverage point with customers when it comes to items such as discounting, making it mutually beneficial for Nimble and its partners.

Paessler AG

Andrew Cutting

Director, Sales, North America

Revamping and rolling out our new Partner Program in August. Partners now have more tools than ever at their disposal as they work to introduce PRTG to their customers and make it a part of their everyday conversation. PRTG continues to be margin rich. We have compelling marketing collateral our partners can share with customers such as whitepapers, case studies, videos, and more. Paessler's channel dedicated pre-sales engineers are available to facilitate sales calls, demonstrate PRTG, provide technical training, and share best practices. This program allows us to increase sales with all of our partners.

Red Hat

Mark Enzweiler

SVP , Global Channel Sales, Alliances

We developed a relationship with Microsoft, making it easy for customers to use Red Hat products in a Microsoft cloud environment. This innovative agreement removes technology barriers for partners' customers, allowing customers to use both Red Hat and Microsoft technology together in a manner that works best for their businesses. Open source is in our DNA; we are a steward of the industry. We provide partners with the tools and knowledge they need to help their customers benefit from open source and become part of the community.

Our partners are frequently requesting ideas on how to get into open source and become involved in the community, so we developed a methodology to help our partners build out open source practices so they may capitalize on this fantastic opportunity. Our software is provided via subscription and free community versions. Hence, it's imperative that our partners provide value to customers and earn their business every day. Successful recurring revenue (renewals) requires a robust, end-to-end customer life cycle process. Red Hat has built its business on an annuity model, and we have shared these best practices with our partners so they can optimize retention, renewal, and upsell, for higher margins and customer satisfaction.


George Hope

VP, Global Channels

The innovation that had the most impact on SimpliVity's partner community has been our continued commitment to not over-complicating the partner program.

Keeping the PartnerAdvantage Program simple is very much inline with SimpliVity's mission to simplify IT. Specific innovations include:

1. The rollout out of an improved deal registration system to provide resellers who create qualified sales opportunities for SimpliVity with the ability to close the opportunity and reap the full benefit of their business development efforts.

2. The introduction of a new marketing syndication platform for partners that allows them to create demand and leverage SimpliVity campaigns.

3. The introduction of the SimpliVity HyperGurantee, which provides partners and their prospective clients the industry's most complete guarantee of the capabilities that SimpliVity's platform can perform for their business."


Kendra Krause

VP, Global Channels

Part of my role is to ensure that our innovation strategy works for our partners. The Security Heartbeat is designed to be simple so regardless of the partner profile, the solutions will just work. Automatically reducing the time it takes to discover, investigate and remediate threats allows our partners to focus on providing higher value services. For all of our partners, particularly MSPs and smaller channel partners, this means an operational efficiency that positively impacts their bottom line. The Security Heartbeat is just the beginning. Sophos is innovating across all elements of our business, including our Cloud Security portfolio. Our recently acquisition of Reflexion Networks provides our partners an effective and easy-to-use email security via the cloud; this has been extremely well-received by partners looking for a stronger relationship with a committed security vendor.

Tripp Lite

Bob Nahorski

Executive VP, U.S. Channel Sales

We are focused on innovation within our partner support organization to expand solution sales and build on our brand and customer base. For example, a customer may know and trust Tripp Lite for one type of product, such as a PDU that goes in a server rack, but we want the customer to also trust Tripp Lite to supply the rack itself, cables, cable managers, patch panels, KVM switches, console servers, UPS systems, cooling, and a host of other products that the customer needs to complete the solution. We've been working hard to improve the solution sale resources we provide for our partners. Our efforts have included expanding our team of Chicago-based, in-house application specialists for pre- and post-sales channel support needs, creating a comprehensive bid and deal registration program, and dedicating more sales engineers to our key verticals. Our partners know that they can depend on Tripp Lite for support before, during, and after the sale, providing them with the enhanced support and resources required to successfully sell complete solutions.


Adam Famularo

VP, Global Channels

In the first quarter this year we introduced Verizon Partner Advantage, a targeted recruitment program where a qualified prospect not currently in our program has the opportunity to enter the VPA program at a level comparable to their current program, with no loss of prestige and access to marketing development funds.

We have also added Security to our channel product portfolio, providing agents and resellers the ability to sell our Rapid Response Retainer and Unified Security Services products, further leveraging the Verizon brand to provide customers access to the right expertise—when they need it the most.