EMC evolves service provider partner program

Michael Kerr, director of channels for EMC Canada

Michael Kerr, director of channels for EMC Canada

EMC has changed its Velocity Service Provider Program, a separate channel program to its Velocity Solution Provider Program designed for the increasing importance the storage giant sees for cloud-based solutions in its channel matrix.

Michael Kerr, EMC Canada’s director of channels, said the program represents “the next evolution for the channel,” where the ability to offer cloud-based services based on EMC gear is just as important as the ability to build on-prem solutions from EMC gear.

“Partners are starting to morph from the builders of solutions towards building in the virtual space or the cloud,” Kerr said. “If a client is starting to buy applications, or looking at moving part of their IT infrastructure to the cloud, our VARs need to transform themselves as well, or they’ll be limited to just reselling.”

The new Service Provider program has three tiers – Silver (requiring a $1.5 million annual run rate); Gold ($8.0 million run rate or a $5.0 million run rate with 20 per cent quarter-over-quarter growth rates for three quarters), and Platinum, which is exclusively for global partners. The tiers are all the same worldwide.

Currently, the company has a pair of service provider partners – Bell Canada and OnX, and Kerr said he expects that number to swell to about six companies over the course of the next year.

The program formally kicks off on January 1, with two specialties in the program – one around backup and one around storage. Registration with either specialty requires training, and the requirement of a cloud architect expert in the area of IT-as-a-service on staff.

The program introduces a new onramp for partners in the Velocity Solution Provider program to join the Velocity Service Provider program. Although Kerr said he estimates that the early entrants to the Service Provider program will be skewed 80 per cent to 20 per cent in favour of traditional service providers, he acknowledged in the long run, more partners are likely to look in the direction of the service provider model.

“For VARs that want to continue to provide a true end-to-end consultative service to their client, they will have no choice but to embrace the model,” he suggested.

And for many solution providers, the transformation to a full-blown service provider model may prove too much of a transition to make, or not be in the company’s best interest. But EMC still wants these partners to have access to solutions, and as part of the new Service Provider program, the company will introduce a framework for creating connections between Velocity solution providers and Velocity service providers. The company hopes that by setting up the rules of engagement well in advance, and codifying the way the two parties work together on joint customers, it will remove some of the concerns solution providers may have about sharing customer information. After all, in many cases, if a VAR is unable to help a customer move to some of these cloud services, they may lose the customer anyway, Kerr says – or it could be even worse from Kerr’s perspective – the account could end up going to a non-EMC cloud solution.

The other big structural change for EMC is in how EMC’s own sales reps are compensated. Just as it has done with channel partners selling EMC gear, the company has made it “transparent” in terms of sales rep compensation when they’re involved in a sale that ultimately goes to or through an EMC authorized service provider, removing that potential channel conflict from the equation.