EMC completes volume-to-value transition with Velocity update

Michael Kerr, director of channels for EMC Canada

Michael Kerr, director of channels for EMC Canada

Storage giant EMC has made the last steps in transforming its channel program from one focused on product sales to one focused on partner expertise with the latest revisions to its Velocity partner program.

The changes to Velocity make program levels and requirements, and do away with the last volume requirements to make top tiers, opting instead to recognize top partners as the ones who invest the most in their EMC practices.

Michael Kerr, director of channels at EMC Canada, said the changes should resonate particularly well here in Canada. Previously, to make Signature, the company’s top partner tiers, partners were required to do $10 million (U.S.) in business with EMC per year – a number that can be all but impossible to attain in small-business-centric Canada.

“If they’re invested in EMC, and if we’re building that business together, I should reward them,” Kerr said.

The top tiers of the program will now be gated by partner specialties – at the Premier level, partners will be required to have one of three EMC specialties – Backup and Recovery, Consolidation, or Advanced Consolidation. To make the Signature tier, partners will have to attain all three specialties. Partners in each of those two top tiers will be eligible for additional back-end rebates, Kerr added.

He said the changes were being made because EMC recognizes that simplicity, predictability, and profitability are paramount in a partner program, particularly at a time when many solution providers may be looking to rationalize their lineup of vendors.

“We respect that it’s expensive for them to carry multiple vendors, and we’re seeing consolidation from them,” he said. On making the program more simple, consistent, and predictable, Kerr added, “They’re going to gravitate towards vendors that do those things.”

In addition to dropping revenue gates and making the program globally consistent, the company is adding other ways for partners to more rapidly advance through the program. Partners will no longer need to have an implementation certification to achieve a specialty, opening the door to more product-centric solution providers. And the company will now conduct quarterly, rather than annual, reviews of partner status, meaning that partners will be able to move up the tiers of the program more quickly when they achieve specialties.

The changes to Velocity are part of a broader cultural change at work at the famously sales-focused EMC. Globally, about 60 per cent of the company’s business goes through the channel, and growing, with more than 90 per cent of overall transactions going through partners. Kerr indicated that in Canada, more than the global 60 per cent of business is going through partners. He says that while EMC sales teams still have choices, “they’re electing to leverage and utilize the skills of our partners more often.”

The company also made changes to how EMC-offered and EMC-branded services are available to partners. While certain services used to only be available to partners at top levels of the program, the program now opens up all services to partners of all sizes. Services are broken down into assembly, implementation, remote support, and onsite support, and partners can choose to subcontract to a distributor or to EMC on any of those, or to engage in them themselves. The services changes also include the creation of a cloud builder practice for solution providers looking for roadmaps, templates and strategies for blending private and public cloud offerings.