Four specializations are being announced, one of which is around OpenStack, which SolidFire believes is an industry first.
Boulder CO-based solid state storage vendor SolidFire has added specialization tiers to its Cloud Builder Partner Program, in the areas of Virtualization, OpenStack, and Agile Infrastructure, as well as a Master Cloud Builder recognition for partners with expertise in more than one of the other three areas.
“We recognize that our partners are making major investments and want more support around technical training to help them build services practices, as well as lead generation, back end incentives and rebates that are stackable,” said Gregg Machon, SolidFire’s Director of Worldwide Channels.
While most vendors in this space already have similar support programs in place, SolidFire’s broad channel program is newer than most, as the company started out selling direct. They added a Fueled by SolidFire program for service providers early in 2013, and then the Cloud Builders program for solution providers later that same year.
“It does mean that we have an advantage of not being encumbered by legacy channel models,” Machon said. “It means that combined with Fueled by SolidFire, we were able to build a next-generation channel.”
The Cloud Builders program has been growing at more than a 50 per cent rate over the last six quarters, and now has 165 partners, who have accounted for more than 75 per cent of SolidFire’s worldwide sales since January 2014.
“We could have more than five times that number of partners if we wanted to, but it’s really not our model,” Machon said. “Not every hardware focused VAR fits with what we are doing. If we could get away with having 5 partners in each major metro market, we would do that, so we can spend more time with each of them.”
The specialization tiers are available to Cloud Builder partners at the Platinum, National and Gold levels.
“There are some check boxes to qualify, but they aren’t rigid, and are mainly around alignment with our Tier One alliance partners and having their accreditations,” Machon said.
He indicated that their virtualization specialization is similar to what many vendors have. SolidFire is aligned with VMware, so partners wanting a specialization should be an ESX partner and have a strong VDI practice.
The OpenStack specialization, on the other hand, Machon said is unique.
“This is an industry first, as others haven’t yet built specializations around this,” he said. “We believe we are the best platform for OpenStack environments.” Partners here will need to be aligned with Red Hat or Mirantis.
The Agile Infrastructure specialization has a converged focus, requiring deep knowledge of key storage, server, networking and cloud management technologies. Red Hat, Cisco and Dell are the three key alignment partners here.
Finally, the Master Cloud Builder specialization, which borrows from the service provider-oriented Fueled by SolidFire Program, requires multiple other specializations to deploy cloud-ready, integrated storage environments.
“The Master Cloud Builder needs to have two of the other three specializations,” Machon said.
In addition to the sales and technical training that is part of the specializations program, and the branding benefits to impress customers, partners with specializations are also eligible for other rewards.
“They get MDF dollars, and back end rebates,” Machon said.
Machon also indicated that SolidFire will be making two more partner-related announcements within the next several weeks.