New service provider program highlights Pure Storage channel program enhancements

In addition to a three tier program for service providers, Pure Storage is adjusting how its internal sales people are compensated to remove what service providers believed was a tendency to favor working with traditional partners over ones selling Pure as a service.

Michael Sotnick, Pure Storage’s Vice President of Global Channel and Alliances

SAN FRANCISCO – Pure Storage, which sells through a 100 per cent channel model, has made some adjustments to their P3 Partner Program. In addition to the programmatic changes, Pure has also created a new category for Service Provider partners.

While Pure Storage sells entirely through partners, it has a conscious strategy of being careful about the number of partners it recruits and maintains.

“Pure Storage’s growth has been well documented, and we’ve been able to achieve this by being able to preserve a scarcity model over an abundance model when it comes to partners,” said Michael Sotnick, Vice President of Global Channel and Alliances at Pure Storage, who has presided over much of that growth, having been in the role for the last two and a half years. While the large legacy storage vendors have partners numbering in the thousands, Pure has a few hundred across the globe. There is a strong congruence with partners who have built their business on Cisco.

“Our philosophy has been to double down on our more productive partners, and get a higher volume from them, rather than constantly chasing new ones all the time,” he said. “We regularly sign up new partners, but we also remove partners who haven’t been active, and make sure we don’t have ‘orphaned arrays.’ We work hard to sign the kind of partners who will be signing up multiple customers, and selling multiple arrays.”

Pure Storage looks for partners who will put a strong focus on them.

“We make sure the partners we invest in show preference to us,” he said. “That doesn’t mean they lead with us blindly. But we want them to position us where it is clear that the customer has been in a single vendor lock-in solution, and where the customer is exploring a thoughtful infrastructure modernization. Those are the prime opportunities for us.”

As Pure explicitly follows a strategy designed to increase their presence in the enterprise, the question of whether they need to be more aggressive in recruiting new enterprise partners is something that is being considered internally.

“We are asking this ourselves now,” Sotnick said. He noted that they are increasingly winning business with more of the big global integrators, like Accenture, several of the Indian giants, and DXE.

“There is a range of other ways to get to the enterprise,” he said. “This also includes our relationship with Cisco. We have some partnerships coming up around AI as well that will get us into the enterprise around unstructured data.”

Sotnick emphasized that Pure doesn’t use the partner program benefits as a core feature to attract and retain partners.

“You will not see our Partner Account Managers lead with the program,” he said. “We sell innovation and customer satisfaction. Some storage vendors put the program benefits out front to show that blind loyalty makes them the most money. We will lead with our innovation and ability to execute on business transformation. We will support that with a hard-hitting, profitable program.”

The major change is the addition of programmatic support within P3 for service providers.

“Pure already has service provider partners – about a hundred globally – and we have been listening to them and getting a sense what we can do programmatically to support those relationships more effectively,” Sotnick said.

One major change has been the introduction of a dual compensation sales model for Pure’s own staff designed to remove some issues that have been there with service provider partners.

“They had been telling us that the Pure account team tended to view them as competition,” Sotnick said. “While Pure never sells direct, there is a direct touch model, where the account team gets credit when they make the sale and it is passed off to a partner. We have introduced a dual comp model where the Pure account team will get credit regardless of whether the customer buys through a traditional partner or buys Pure as a service from a service provider.”

The Service Provider program offers three levels of participation based on revenue and certification commitments, as well as benefits that include volume discounts.

One benefit that isn’t here yet is a consumption-based model that correlates with service providers’ billing model.

“Be on the lookout for a consumption-based model to support service providers,” Sotnick said. “That’s not something we are announcing this week, but it’s a natural thing for them to want.”

Pure is also increasing their range of enablement tools and resources available, which include training, demo gear discounts, deal registration and MDF funds.