Citrix Tunes Channel Programs to Enhance Value

Tom Flink

Citrix channel chief Tom Flink

Citrix Systems Inc. sits at the crossroads of two major technology trends – virtualization and software defined networking. It built its business on a channel that worked well yet remained loosely defined and best described as “informal.”

That’s changing today with two new initiatives that bring more formality to the Citrix channel framework and processes. Citrix’s intent: provide partners with a more objective, transparent and predictable program that equates into higher performance and profitability.

“There’s a need for more capacity in the market. Customers are looking for specific skill sets and we need to raise the bar,” said Tom Flink, vice president of worldwide channels and market development sales at Citrix. “As with anything that exists, Citrix are constantly vying for partner mindshare. We’re evolving and enhancing how we do business, and it’s an underlying component of our partnership with the channel.

“We have great partners in the program doing a lot of great work. There are partners that have looked at Citrix in the past and not done as much. We want to reach out to our existing base and potential partners, and make sure we’re maintaining what we believe is one of the best channel programs in the market.”

Changes to the Citrix Solution Advisor program are relatively simple. Bronze, silver and gold partners are being asked to increase their investments in training and certification. Citrix hears from existing top-performing partners that their professional services are almost completely out of capacity and demand remains high.

By increasing certification requirements, Citrix is shifting rewards such as enhanced margins, rebates and support to those partners with the capacity to meet market demand for higher professional services and implementation work.

Reward will now flow to partners who have attained status in the higher levels of the Citrix Solution Advisor program. Citrix is enhancing the benefits in each level, providing greater resources and rewards to those partners who matriculate to the advanced tiers.

In years past, Citrix partner placing in the channel tiers was done through a combination of certifications, performance and, too often, subjective placement. Partners essentially could get a gold status with exemption from Citrix. Under the new program, Citrix is formalizing the tiers, basing status on certifications and performance. The idea is to ensure partners are treated equitably.

To help partners understand the new tiering system and what it takes to achieve status, Citrix is publishing advancement guidelines. Flink says these guidelines will provide partners with a clear understanding of how they can progress through the different levels and gain access to more resources and rewards.

Rewards are not overlooked in the Citrix channel changes, particularly when it comes to deal registration. Citrix is expanding deal registration benefits, providing rewards for partners who close and fulfill or simply influence a sale. The rewards are particularly good for partners specialized in software defined networks; they can earn up to 20% additional compensation on registered deals for NetScaler products.

“We feel that this [SDN] market specifically that is competitive and the partners that are selling in that market place feel the upfront margin is an important component to their business,” Flink told Channelnomics. “It’s also important to gaining mindshare.”

Citrix also introduced the SaaS Advisor Program, which helps partners acquire products such as GoToMeeting and GoToAssist through distribution and cloud aggregators. Through the program, Citrix is helping distributors, aggregators and partners with additional resources for understanding products, marketing cloud and integrating Citrix cloud services with third-party resources.

Flink says the Citrix channel changes are about enhancements and maturation. Perhaps, but it’s also more likely a reflection of the highly dynamic markets in which Citrix competes.

The company is locked in a fierce competitive three-way with VMware and Microsoft;  Citrix is often position as the alternative to premium VMware products and Microsoft’s underpriced Hyper-V applications. While virtualization remains hot, it’s already reach the point of being a mature technology segment. With more than 60 percent of servers already virtualized, commoditization will start setting in.

In SDN, Citrix is a major player thanks to its acquisition of NetScaler. It competes against the likes of Cisco, VMware, Broadcom, Pertino, Hewlett-Packard and a raft of others that are each vying for a share of this market that could revolutionize the data networking as we know it today.

By making these changes, Citrix is signaling to the channel community that it values performance and expects results. For partners who step up to the challenge, Citrix has rewards waiting.