Storage vendor Hitachi Data Systems has introduced changes to its TrueNorth Partner Program that clarify rules of engagement in named enterprise accounts, bring in new incentives, and open new opportunities to the company’s distribution partners.
In the past, the company hasn’t offered a “hard line” between named and non-named, direct and indirect accounts. Peter Kriparos, HDS’ Canadian channel chief, says that’s about to change.
“Our partners need more definition of where that hard line is,” he said.
And, he says, they’ll get it. The Canadian named account list is still in development, but will be communicated to partners shortly, Kriparos said. And even in those named accounts, the company is not taking an “us or them” approach.
“For any accounts below [the named accounts] line, it’s 100 percent indirect,” Kriparos said. “But for anything that’s on the list, it can be channel or it can be direct, but it will be Hitachi-led.”
In effect, channel partners can be brought into named accounts by HDS, or can even find new opportunities in those named accounts, but the vendor will “reserve the right” to control how it (with or without partners) goes to market in those accounts.
To go along with the new rules of engagement, HDS has introduced new incentives, particularly offering a stack of rewards for partners offering delivery and integration skills around its Hitachi Unified Compute Platform (UCP) products.
The changes to the program see Hitachi leaning more heavily on its distribution partners. Under a change to its Services Specialization Program, the company will allow Arrow and Avnet to perform remote services for the first time, mainly on its midmarket products. This means the distributors will be able to deliver some of Hitachi’s “lighter services,” including software installation, on behalf of partners.
“It will allow our more volume-based VARs to enhance their customers’ experiences by giving them access to that services bench,” Kriparos said.
The storage vendor is also working with Avnet to bring its UCP converged stack deeper into the channel. The company has announced that Avnet will be enabled to deliver pre-integrated stacks of its UCP Select reference architecture featuring Cisco UCS servers and VMware software, for channel partners.
For the first time, Hitachi is also allowing the channel to be the first support call, announcing a pilot program that will allow a Hitachi partner (in this case, U.S.-based partner Datalink) to provide the first line of support for the company’s UCP Select for VMware vSphere with Cisco UCS. Kriparos said partners have frequently requested the ability to do first-call support around the company’s wares, and that it wants to open it up “to partners that want to set up and to make the investment.” The effort is a compromise between Hitachi’s conservative view, owing to its mainframe legacy, and its recognition that the channel is increasingly technically proficient and a valuable way to reach a variety of customers.
In Canada, first-call support remains Hitachi’s domain, although Kriparos said the company will be open to partners “stepping up” for the opportunity. The company will also open up the opportunity to U.S. partners other than Datalink, as appropriate.