Barracuda restructures, rebalances partner program

The changes include increased revenue requirements for all tiers, which break up what had become a top-heavy distribution of partners in a program where advancement was too easy, and permit proper incents of Barracuda’s most valuable partners.

Chris Meyer, Barracuda

Chris Meyer, Barracuda’s Director of Channel Development

Barracuda Networks has made some significant changes to its partner program in order to remove some imbalances which had developed in the old one over time. They have added a new top tier to the program, and increased the revenue requirements for each level, which will provide a better balance between the tiers than the old one, which was too top heavy. Barracuda has also improved some benefits in response to partner requests, and has revamped its MSP program.

“We just outgrew our old program,” said Chris Meyer, Barracuda’s Director of Channel Development.

Barracuda, which sells entirely through channel partners, has 4000 of them, but they were poorly distributed across the company’s old three-tier program. It was far too easy to get into the top tier, which was bloated. Moreover, the fairly small number of top partners were lumped into the old top tier with many others who sold far less, with no differentiation or recognition of the top performers’ value to Barracuda.

“We had minimum revenue requirements across the old three tiers, and partners easily exceeded them,” Meyer said. “As a result, we had a big group at the head of our program with nowhere for them to go.”

Two changes specifically deal with this issue. First, the old Diamond-Platinum-Certified tiering is gone, replaced with a four tier structure of Premier, Preferred, Authorized and Registered, with the new tier being the entry-level Registered one. The second change is increased revenue requirements to meet eligibility for all four tiers.

“The logic of the new tiering is that it spreads out partners better, and spreads out bookings pretty evenly across each of the levels, which was not the case before,” Meyer said. There will be a grace period, of between six months and a year, for partners to meet new tier requirements.

The biggest change is at the new Registered level, where new partners usually enter the program. Barracuda solutions are classified on an x grading system, with 1-3x being the low end models, and at the Registered level, all discounts on these models are even for all partners, old or new. At the same time, the discounts have been increased over what was paid to the entry tier previously.

“This level is typically where resellers come in, and it gives an opportunity for them to compete,” Meyer said. “We increased the discount as well as levelled it across the board – increased and flattened it so everybody wins. In theory, that will help attract new partners.”

Meyer also indicated that the enhanced minimum requirements – with $5000 being the annual floor for the Registered level – isn’t being done to boot partners who don’t make new sales.

“We love all partners and want all partners,” he said. “We have partners who sell under 10 deals a year and we are perfectly comfortable with that. If they aren’t selling the minimum after the grace period they likely aren’t doing training either, and at some point there will be a discussion recommending that they move to the Affiliate program where they don’t have a contract and buy through distribution. We haven’t actually removed any partners.”

Much more emphasis is being placed on training in the new program.

“Training is really expanded from what we had before,” Meyer said. “There are more training classes depending on the role an individual plays in the partner company – sales, engineer, or professional services. It’s all web-based until you get to the advanced instructor-led level, which is for deep engineers and professional services where you need hands-on training in a clinical environment.” The amount of training time obviously goes up with level in the program, but Meyer said it can be as little as 4-6 hours total to satisfy a partner company’s entire training requirements.

Deal registration is being enhanced as well.

“Before, our 1-4x models could not be registered, but now 4x solutions are eligible to be registered because they are being included in larger deals,” Meyer said. “This was a change which was very much partner-driven.” Product discounts have also increased for approved registrations.

Another change driven by partner demand is an increase in the amount of Not-For-Resale product partners can purchase to use for solutions in their own networks and for training.

“The reseller can acquire these at a big discount to run their business on, with the discount being up to 100 per cent on subscriptions,” Meyer said. “As you move up levels, the software discounts increase. Increasing these limits is intended to reward and encourage partners.”

Enhancements have also been made to Barracuda’s Managed Service Provider program, which covers Barracuda Backup and Barracuda NG Firewall.

“This program existed before but we have revamped it.” Meyer said. “This change was also driven by popular demand as more and more partners are becoming MSPs.” Meyer said that, on paper, Barracuda’s MSP business was 10 per cent and growing quickly, but that in reality, the percentage of MSP business was higher.

“We have a number of VARs who are acting as MSPs, but aren’t yet in the MSP program,” he said.