Nutanix rethinks partner program philosophy with launch of Channel Charter

The Channel Charter – Nutanix’s new channel program – is designed to encourage partners to move beyond HCI to the cloud, while also allowing smarter partners who are deeply focused on Nutanix to qualify for the program’s top tier.

Rodney Foreman, Nutanix’s Vice President of Global Channel Sales

Last May, at the first Partner Xchange ever held at Nutanix’s .NEXT event, Nutanix announced its forthcoming channel charter – Power to the Partner.  Today, it officially goes live. It is a revamped partner program, intended to update it from its origins to support the sale of hyperconverged infrastructure [HCI], to one that fully recognizes Nutanix’s increased emphasis on the cloud. To that end, the classifications and incents are not based on revenue alone, but on criteria that Nutanix deems more relevant for long term mutual success. These include the number of deals, deals involving the Nutanix cloud ecosystem as well as HCI, and the partner’s investment in Nutanix through certifications and training.

“This channel charter is about making sure partners are successful over the long term,” said Rodney Foreman, Nutanix’s Vice President of Global Channel Sales. “Looking at our business from a futuristic view, as we evolve our business and our portfolio for the future, we want to make sure our partners evolve with us.”

Nutanix’s old partner program had become obsolete because the company’s rapid growth made it too easy for too many partners to reach the top tier. The new program does, however, differ in a fundamental way from before because all three tiers in the program – Pioneer Partner, Scaler Partner and Master Partner – are defined by a different philosophy than in the past.

“This program is all about empowering partners to be successful, and making certain that they are successful in the market,” Foreman said. “We are not giving full benefits just for driving revenue. We want all our partners to be successful and drive new revenue because the partners extend our reach. So the new Channel Charter is about empowering partners rather than measuring them, and giving benefits based on what they deliver.

“When you enter into a program and start selling, you have different needs,” Foreman added. “The tiering is based on where they are in their journey with Nutanix. That’s why the program is – Pioneer, Scaler Master. Pioneer needs a different set of tools and support. Scaler is expanding the product portfolio. There is a different level of support for a Master partner.”

The entry Pioneer Partner tier is designed around HCI, which is now intended to be the initial Nutanix partnership and engagement tier, where the partner learns skills around the core Nutanix hyperconverged solutions, preparatory to adding the cloud offerings to their portfolio.

“Pioneer is an evolutionary category,” Foreman said. “Pioneer partners are maturing as a partner and we want to get them to the Scaler level, with the right level of certification and training. It’s about evolving and maturing and we are actively looking at selling data. After they become certified, we look at how much have they sold – and as they evolve they get more tools and marketing support to be more successful.”

Nutanix scaled back their partner channel over the last couple of years, going deeper with a smaller number of partners, but Foreman said that the philosophy is different in the new program.

“We are growing the number of partners,” he said. “Earlier this year, we announced a rebate incentive around Dell EMC , and that led to a number of Dell EMC partners becoming Nutanix partners. In June we then announced our Velocity channel program focused on the midmarket, and we announced that with Lenovo.  We are growing, and are focused on expanding selling capabilities within the expanding partner base.”

At the Scaler Partner level, the partner will be developing integrated solutions around the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud OS software ecosystem, and increasing the number and level of certified staff and deals. The Master level will be selling more into the Cloud products like Flow, Era and Beam, as well as the core HCI products, and will hold more certifications.

“In addition to more margin, the Master Partners get more MDS as well, and more sales support, because they are selling more and addressing more of the market,” Foreman said. “It’s not to give them a perk. They are inherently selling more.”

Foreman said that measuring commitment by transactions rather than total revenue allows smaller, focused partners to reach the Master level, not just the large account resellers and long-time Nutanix partners who have already built up large practices.

“Transactions also show breadth, winning new customers as well as getting repeat business,” he said.

Nutanix isn’t concerned about partners gaming the system with artificially smaller deals to score more transactions.

“We do trust our partners,” he said. “However, we do advanced analytics, and if someone was to try to game the system by breaking apart deals – as opposed to selling to different units within the same customer – we would know that.”

The marketing sales and training behind the new Channel Charter are also new, and include Xpand, a set of marketing tools and assets partners can use to build their pipeline that was also announced at .NEXT.

“The Xpand marketing platform that we provide to our partners is not just about giving them pre-set marketing campaigns,” Foreman said. It’s much more customizable to their business and their specific opportunities.”