Industry association CompTIA has for the first time added a vendor-facing “trustmark” to its list of certifications, introducing the Cloud Trustmark+ that aims to help channel partners figure out who’s who in the crowded world of cloud services.
The Cloud Trustmark+ certifies cloud vendors based on how they engage channel partners, the types of enablement available for solution providers, how they handle issues of direct sales vs. channel sales, and the security of their technology infrastructure and data centre. Miles Jobgen, director of CompTIA’s Trustmarks program, said the intention is to help smaller cloud vendors find channel partners, and vice versa.
“We don’t expect to have Rackspace, Google, or Amazon jumping up and down to join us. We’re looking at the smaller [vendors] who are looking to prove they can add value and help solution providers,” Jobgen said.
Jobgen said the idea was developed after members of the organization’s cloud community complained that they were getting overwhelmed by e-mails from new and unfamiliar cloud vendors. The sheer mass of cloud-based technology startups now looking to grow their own channels means there’s a growing need for a directory and an endorsement, he suggested.
“It tells our solution provider members that [a Trustmarked] cloud provider has got a strategy to deal with partners,” Jobgen said. “It’s a way for these vendors to show that they know what the channel is all about and they’re friendly players in it.”
It also makes sure that most of the information a channel partner needs to make the decision to work with a vendor or not is located in one easy-to-find place, hopefully further streamlining the decision process for VARs.
The program consists of a vendor self-assessment of more than 110 questions asked in a survey, as well as a third-party security audit, which is why it gets the Trustmark+ designation. All in, Jobgen said they’re generally able to turn around applications in “about two weeks’ time.”
Although it’s starting with a fairly narrow group of members – Jobgen expects “four or five” early adopter vendors in the next few weeks – the Trustmark+ has strong support from both Ingram Micro and Tech Data, and CompTIA will use next week’s Ingram Cloud Summit in Phoenix to start building awareness, and no doubt vendor ranks, for the new designation.
CompTIA, which though a broad industry association has its roots and particular strength in the channel, does not yet offer a cloud-specific Trustmark for its solution-provider members. Jobgen points out that the Managed Services Trustmark does a pretty good job of summing up most partner competencies in this space, although there may eventually be something more cloud-specific added to the mix.
In the meantime, the Cloud Trustmark+ shows the organization is continuing to expand its relevance to vendors who are current or prospective members of the association. Over the last year, CompTIA has been working to make sure employees of vendors understand that if their organization is a member, all employees are therefore members as well. This effort is particularly true in markets like Canada, where employees of subsidiaries may not even be aware that head office is involved in the community, and that therefore they can be too.
“It’s our first foray into bringing additional value for vendor members,” Jobgen said of the Cloud Trustmark+. “We’re looking to beef up our value proposition to them. Bringing them in to the same table with all of our solution provider members will be a big benefit for us.”