Nutanix Bets Big On New Distributor Program, Supermicro And Partner Incentives

Nutanix’s global channel chief Christian Alvarez talks to CRN about its new distributor partner program, its new “percent” partnership with Supermicro and how channel incentives could be “disaggregated” in the future.

Christian Alvarez Talks New Partnerships, Partner Programs And ‘Disaggregated’ Channel Incentives

Nutanix has unleashed a slew of new products, partnerships and solution provider-focused initiatives to take channel sales to the next level, while eying a new way to dish out channel incentives in the future, says Nutanix’s worldwide channel chief Christian Alvarez.

“We’re starting to flirt with the idea of, ‘What if we were to disaggregate those partner incentives? And maybe pay a percentage of those incentives at the time of sale, but then place premium incentives along the lifetime of the customers journey,’” said Alvarez, senior vice president of worldwide channel sales, in an interview with CRN. “I think that’s an incredible way for partners to potentially earn more incentives.”

One of the biggest news items that went under the radar at Nutanix’s recent .NEXT virtual conference was the launch of a new distributor partner program.

The new Elevate Distributor Partner Program, “is the first tiered distribution incentive program in our industry,” that will help channel partners drive more profitability, said Nutanix’s channel chief.

In an interview with CRN, Alvarez talks about the new distributor partner program, newly enhanced channel rules and regulations, and Nutanix’s revamped “perfect” partnership with Supermicro.

“Supermicro will now be able to take us into incredible new accounts,” Alvarez said.

How differentiated is Nutanix’s new distributor program from your competitors?

I would say its the first-tiered distribution incentive program in our industry.

This is certainly going to stimulate the growth that we’re seeing and the mindshare that we’re recognizing in our broad channel segment. Our broad channel segment, like many of our peers, is identified, recruited, on boarded and supported by our great distribution partners around the world. Nutanix believes that by properly setting the right incentives that are tiered for with our distribution partners, it’s going to drive the right behavior and the outcomes that we are hoping for.

I often read in many CRN articles, where a lot of manufacturers are de-investing or changing their business relationships with distributors. We are going the opposite way, where we are doubling down with them. We truly believe in distribution. We believe a lot in the strategy and the vision of where the distributors are going with marketplaces, and aggregations, and all of these things—we couldn’t be more excited.

How can partners leverage this new program to drive scale and profitability?

This is going to allow number one: our distribution partners to be able to reinvest some of their incentives back into the resellers. It’s going to drive even more mindshare so that we can effectively at scale, continue to enable and train our partners. They’re going to see an enormous amount of velocity and integration.

We’re investing a significant amount of money, along with our distribution partners, in order for them to become a Distributor Champion, which is the highest tiered level and has the highest earning potential—they have to be integrated with us and have a very tight secured B2B integration via API’s.

So this is going to drive an enormous amount of velocity that Nutanix resellers will now be able to point and click to get a quote or get a renewals quote with the highest level of accuracy and speed. So this B2B integration, it’s about time, accuracy and velocity. Customers wants solutions now, and this Elevate Distributor Program is going to significantly enhance the resellers experience, not just with us, but also with the distributors. There’s a lot more nuances around how partners and resellers are going to really, really benefit from the Distributor Elevate Program.

And lastly, with distributor’s ability to have enhanced incentives by doing all the right things—show growth, leveraging our performance-plus deal registration that is all built around trust, alignment and growth—distribution can go back and enhance their own incentives model back into the reseller program. So it’s a win-win-win situation for everyone.

Talk about the opportunities ahead with Nutanix’s new reseller partnership with Supermicro?

Supermicro has been one of our contract manufacturers that has been doing a great job of building the Nutanix NX platform, and we’ve gotten even closer with them from a research and development perspective.

During these discussions with Supermicro, we identified some great opportunities together where there’s some great synergies that we can both identify and leverage—and that’s their customer base and their own partner ecosystem. By basically having the same folks that do an amazing job manufacturing the Nutanix NX compute platform, they can now turn around and resell it within their own programs and their own partner ecosystem.

Nutanix is going to benefit because we’re going to be able to continue to uncover new Earth by expanding our reach. Supermicro is an incredible company. They have a global presence. They’ve had incredible growth. They produce a very high quality product. … As we continue to become more focused with our strategic partners, like Supermicro, they’re now able to resell and tap into their great partner ecosystem that they have and the thousands of customers that Supermicro has around the world.

What does this new Supermicro partnership bring to the channel table?

Supermicro gets to continue doing what they do best: manufacturing. They have a great sales workforce that’s global with some incredible accounts. Supermicro will now be able to take us into those incredible new accounts and this is a better together. But at the end of the day, Nutanix is going to support those customers on the Nutanix NX platform sold by Supermicro.

So Supermicro’s customers of today and tomorrow will be able to benefit and enjoy our 90-plus Net Promoter Score rating. We are absolutely obsessed with customer satisfaction. Supermicro going out selling with support from Nutanix, I believe it’s a perfect partnership.

How will partners abroad benefit?

Look, there’s going to be tremendous services opportunities. A lot of our resellers are Supermicro resellers. So they’ll be able to leverage Supermicro and their own partner programs.

Quite frankly, I think that when we talk about DevOps, as an example, professional services, and managed services: these are things that our partners can do really well and plug into part of this new Supermicro relationship.

You recently formed new strategic partnerships with Red Hat and Supermicro, alongside other relationships with HPE and Lenovo. What’s the strategy?

We’re continuing to expand our strategic relationships to help partners really benefit and make even more money with these combined solutions that are certified and supported together. It’s about, ‘How do we get to increase our value by combining Red Hat with Nutanix or Nutanix and HPE, or Red Hat and Nutanix.’ We’re super excited and thrilled where we’re going.

Partners like HPE with GreenLake has just been spectacular and is growing. Lenovo there’s a bunch of new things that we’re going to be rolling out with them. We’re also super thrilled about the recent Red Hat partnership. Our friends over at Red Hat are thrilled, but more importantly, our partners and customers are really thrilled with the future of Red Hat and Nutanix working together and certifying our hypervisor on Red Hat.

Is the new Nutanix solutions with Red Hat now generally available for all partners to sell?

It’s absolutely ready. Right now, any Red Hat partner can certainly work with their partner account managers on the Nutanix side. They can certainly reach out to our channel sales managers and definitely start working on building materials and solutions. This is one we’ve been working on for a while.

This partnership has meat on the bones. This is the real deal. This is a great example of Nutanix and Red Hat listening to our customers, listening to our partners, and developing a strategic meat on the bones partnership to actually go out and deliver use cases and business outcomes based on what customers and partners have been asking. So yes, partners can absolutely work with their counterparts and their points of contact today in both companies.

With Nutanix’s transformation to software and subscription complete, what’s the future of your channel incentive strategy? What major changes are ahead?

We’ve proven to the market that we’re able to transform. We’ve exceeded many of our targets and expectations on our transition to subscription. Partners have come along with us during this transformation of renewals. Like I said before, partners have and will continue to be an integral part of our core strategy.

When I when I think about the future of incentives, in today’s consumption- and subscription-based economy, customers are evolving how they select, precure and consume technology. That definitely is going to open up new opportunities, but bring challenges as well. Because of the evolution of how customers are consuming and procuring technology, the lines have become really blurry on partner ecosystems: who’s a reseller? Who’s a GSI? Who’s a distributor? Who’s a managed service provider? It’s so important for companies like Nutanix to really have a very simple and clear partner ecosystem that supports this trend and this confusion that there is in our industry today because of, for example, marketplaces are putting a lot of pressure in all of these various things.

I believe that in the future, not too far into the distant future, that there is a potential that incentives may become disaggregated.

What do you mean by ‘disaggregated incentives’?

Most partner programs today pay their incentives frontend, back end, at point of sale. We’re starting to flirt with the idea of, ‘What if we were to disaggregate those partner incentives? And maybe pay a percentage of those incentives at the time of sale, but then place premium incentives along the lifetime of the customers journey.’

It’s kind of following that land, expand, renew, and adopt continuum. I believe that there is a very high probability that someday in the future, we may align our incentives with that continuum and the lifetime of the customer value. I think that’s an incredible way for partners to potentially earn more incentives.

One of the things that we did really well when we launched Elevate Partner Program— which by the way turns one-year-old this this month—is that we aligned for the first time our entire incentive program to our go-to-market goals. This allowed us to really be better aligned than ever with our partners and our entire sales force. So we’re all running towards the same goals together. I kind of see that as a future of the incentive model. I call it the disaggregated partner incentive model. I can’t wait to talk to you more about that and certainly our partners, as we continue to look into this.

What’s one big channel initiative Nutanix has recently rolled out to benefit partners?

We’re increasing the profitability potential in our Elevate Partner Program. We are expanding and relaxing some of the rules around how long we recognize a new logo and increasing the earnings potential for our partners by giving them more runway than ever before on being able to expand. It’s great to get that new logo and it’s great to do that first sale, but it all ties back to that lifetime journey and value of the customer.

We’re giving our partners now a much longer runway, I believe it’s close to nine months—so we’re going from six months to nine months—where they’ll be able to earn even more incentives. We are also relaxing some of the rules around our deal registration, which we call Performance Plus Deal Reg.

As Nutanix’s channel leader, what’s your message to partners?

We know channel partners are the only way that we’re going to be able to reach our next level of growth. I would say that the headline here is, we leave no partners behind.

We’ve evolved. We’ve transformed and we continue to work closely with our partners. We continue to enhance our partner ecosystem. We don’t take deals direct, period, end of story. We absolutely support our partners day in and day out. We work hand-in-hand with them. And this is our creed. This is absolutely something that that is integral and very core to us here at Nutanix.