Massive partner recruitment a key goal of new Scale Computing channel program

The restructured Scale program accommodates managed service providers for the first time, and also makes provision for referral partners.

Jason Collier, Scale Computing’s co-founder

Indianapolis-based hyper-converged vendor Scale Computing has announced a major restructuring of its channel program. While the program, which had not been tweaked since 2013, was ripe for updating, a major goal of the changes is to increase significantly the number of partners with which Scale works. While that number is approximately 250 today in North America, they would like to get it to close to 1000.

“It was time for our partner program to grow up,” said Jason Collier, Scale Computing’s co-founder. “We sell entirely through channel partners, and have had success with the program, but we needed to make it much more robust than what it was.”

When Scale launched its flagship HC3 hyper-converged offering, a new partner program was launched at the very beginning of 2013, coinciding with the product launch. No significant changes had been made since then, and the changes to the partner community over the last four years made it imperative that the program be updated to deal with those changes.

“We have made accommodation in the new program for both managed service providers and referral partners, neither of which were accommodated in the old program,” said Kevin Greenwood, Senior Director of Global Channels at Scale. “We have also added an extra tier for our most productive partners to provide them with more financial rewards.”

The 2013 program was a two-tier program, on paper.

“Our first program was flat, with just one tier,” Collier said. “Later on, in 2013, we added a second tier, but there wasn’t much of a distinction between the two.”

The new program has three tiers – the archetypal Silver, Gold and Platinum – and the distinctions are designed to be meaningful.

“The differentiation is how much investment is put into the relationship,” Greenwood said.

The Silver tier is the entry level, and is pretty much open to anyone willing to go through Scale’s training. The formalization of the training and certification is a new and important part of the program, and is a critical part of the partner investment. Even the Silver tier requires training, and the required number of people trained goes up at Gold and Platinum.

The exception to the training requirement is Referral Partners.

“We believe these partners, who are typically technology consulting organizations, are a part of our channel,” Greenwood said. “Before, we did not have a model for them to participate, and now we do.”

The top Platinum tier is invitation only.

“This is significantly less than 10 per cent of our total partner base, and 10 per cent would be the logical maximum in a fully-built out program,” Greenwood said.

The way the program works has changed significantly as well.

“In the past, the program was not heavily managed,” Greenwood said. “We are now actively focusing more on activities that will generate the right opportunities for both Scale and partners, including more focus on marketing, lead generation and professional services.

Kevin Greenwood, Senior Director of Global Channels at Scale Computing

“Professional services are a huge-value add that the channel delivers,” Greenwood indicated. “Partners are already selling a lot of those services. We want the program to bring us into alignment with what partners are already doing in services around installation, migration, disaster services, and data centre optimization.”

“For example, we are looking to franchise out our DR services to our MSP partners,” Collier said.

The ultimate goal of the new program is to significantly increase the number of strong partners doing business with Scale.

“We currently have about 250 partners in North America, of which around 40 to 50 per cent are active, and 20 per cent are highly active,” Collier said. “In Canada, we are crossing over the 50 mark in partners. While we have a sales and technical team in Canada, we don’t have nearly the name recognition in Canada that we do in the U.S., so lead generation activity is proportionately even more important in Canada. We also just hired a channel development manager for Canada to help enable channel partners.”

Collier said that they are looking to get to close to 1000 partners in North America.

“We’ve always been looking to add new partners, but this program is heavily focused on the recruitment of new partners, and we are actively seeking them,” Collier said. “We certainly see that the channel is changing, and managed services in particular are becoming critical. Part of this launch is accommodating to the realities of today’s channel market.”

Collier described Scale as a ‘VMware killer’ that doesn’t use VMware at all, and that this is very much reflected in their partner base.

“It very much impacts channel recruitment,” he said. “We are not looking to recruit those national partners heavily entrenched with the tier one vendors.”