Cohesity restructures partner program to reflect company maturity

The major changes to the program include moving from a single tier to three, and adding a new business incentive for both net-new customers and for sales of the additional Cohesity data management solutions.

Bill Lipsin, Cohesity’s vice president of global channels

Today, hyperconverged secondary storage vendor Cohesity is announcing a significant restructuring of its partner program. The changes reflect Cohesity’s maturity both as a company and of the portfolio of solutions it sells. A new three tier structure provides for differentiation of partner capabilities, while new programmatic additions like a new customer bonus and an automated Market Development Tool for proposal-based marketing funding also reflect the expanded portfolio.

“These changes are an evolutionary step,” said Bill Lipsin, who joined Cohesity as vice president of global channels in October. “Our existing channel program has been successful, but when the program was originally designed, the company was at a different stage. With the success we have had, it’s time to take the next step. That’s the thinking.”

A major structural change is providing the ability to clearly differentiate partner capabilities through a new three-tiered program, with Associate, Preferred and Premier levels.

Cohesity has traditionally had a select approach to its partner ecosystem, preferring to work with a smaller number of partners rather than to maximize the number of feet on the street with a larger ecosystem. The move to a tiered model doesn’t change that, but Lipsin said the company has outgrown the approach where all partners are treated the same.

“Trying to ‘peanut butter’ a partnering strategy doesn’t always work,” he said. “That’s some of the thinking behind the three tiers we have created. We wanted to give the partners a path that recognizes the investment they have made. We don’t want a mass channel, but a measured one that recognizes and rewards partners who invest with Cohesity. Customers will also get more value from such partners.”

The Associate Partner tier provides basic enablement through the Cohesity Partner Portal, including pre-built marketing campaign kits, sales tools, and access to Web-based sales and enablement training. Preferred Partners, who are required to train specific numbers of salespeople and SEs, also get access to Cohesity partner teams, MDF for marketing and enablement, instructor-led training courses and NFR software for customer demos. The Premier Partner tier, achieved through reaching a combination of training and revenue goals, works directly with Cohesity executives on joint business planning and custom growth programs.

“Virtually every vendor has a Premier Partner tier, with the same basic tools and capabilities, but I am so impressed with the way that Cohesity sales teams partner with these partners, and work together in the field,” Lipsin said. “It not only shows the path to the partners but helps our own sales team understand the partners that we want to focus on.”

In addition to the new tiering, Lipsin said that clear guidance will be provided to partners on how to increase revenue and margins.

“This is about making sure partners understand that there is a path to continuing to grow with Cohesity, through the new tiered system, and also working with them to leverage services and support,” he indicated.

A major addition has been the introduction of new customer incentives. North America Partner sales teams in the Preferred and Premier tiers are eligible for bonuses between $5,000 and $50,000 for every new Cohesity customer, with bonuses determined by the initial deal size.  Follow-on purchases are also eligible for bonuses.

“This is one of the most controversial elements,” Lipsin said. “We pay partner sellers and SEs both. A lot of partners don’t like that degree of incentives for their own sellers, especially outside North America. We looked at this closely, because we wanted to make sure we were working with our partners and not causing them unnecessary friction.”

Lipsin also emphasized that these bonuses aren’t just for net new customers, but for expanded use cases into other Cohesity solutions. Particularly since their Pegasus 6.3 release early this year, which let third-party applications run directly on the Cohesity platform, Cohesity has expanded the scope of solutions it sells.

“We have a fantastic backup product, but we are now much more than just that,” Lipsin said. “This entire platform we have created allows us to redefine how we manage data, including capabilities around DR, DevTest and analytics. So this isn’t

just a net new bonus, but for expanding use cases, selling beyond the Cohesity backup into some of the newer areas like DevTest.”

Lipsin emphasized that this broader vision was part of Cohesity CEO Mohit Aron’s original conception when he founded the company.

“It was initially to be a data platform, then a manageability layer, and then apps and services like Splunk running on Cohesity,” Lipsin stated. “It’s a whole different approach to managing data. That’s why the add-ons are so important.”

Cohesity has also added a new tool in the Cohesity partner portal that automates MDF management for partners, making it easier to request, manage and submit claims.

“This isn’t just a short-term action for us, but is part of a broader proactive approach,” Lipsin said. “It’s about making it simpler for our partners and customers. It’s just one more evolutionary step.”

Lipsin also highlighted that almost 75% of Cohesity’s active partners grew their business over 100% in the last year, while more than 50% grew their business by more than 200%.

“That’s the trajectory, and the new tiering and enablement will accelerate this,” he concluded.

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