Splunk opening Workload Pricing to all is major plus for partners

Splunk also announced a  major reworking of its partner program, which is now the Splunk Partnerverse Program, and features a new badging system that unlocks paths to higher rewards.

Brooke Cunningham, Splunk area vice president, global partner marketing and experience

Today is Splunk’s formal partner day at their online Splunk .conf21 annual event, but the partner-focused news for Splunk’s approximately 2200 partners was all announced Tuesday. Splunk announced a reboot of their partner program, with what was formerly the Splunk Partner Program Plus becoming the Splunk Partnerverse Program. It’s not simply a rebranding, however, because while the old tiering remains the same, a new badge system around core competencies is being introduced, which will be complemented by a Partner Solutions Catalogue which beefs up what Splunk had in place there before. And yet the most interesting announcement for partners at the event is likely not the new partner program at all, and is not specifically partner-focused. The expansion of Splunk’s workload pricing from its cloud customers to all its customers is something partners badly wanted, and is likely to have a significant effect on sales by making Splunk less expensive for customers to run.

“I am the most excited about delivering workload pricing to all Splunk customers,” announced Doug Merritt, Splunk’s President and CEO, in summing up the conference announcements at the close of the opening keynote Tuesday. “We are pounding the table on workload pricing, switching to value-oriented pricing from data volume-oriented pricing, which is where we started.

The Splunk Workload Pricing model license allocation is based on compute capacity, in contrast to their traditional ingest licensing which is based on data volume, measured in SVC [Splunk Virtual Compute] units. The customer thus no longer pays for the volume of data they have, but for how they use Splunk to work that data. Workload pricing is thus a value-oriented pricing option that can help align Splunk investment with a customer’s search activity and provide the flexibility to bring data volume without ingest limits. Until now, it has been an option for Splunk Cloud Platform customers.

“We have had Workload Pricing for a couple of years, but not everyone is aware of it,” Merritt said. “Now every customer has access to it. They get immense value, and the entire conversation changes.”

“This is a really important announcement,” said Theresa Carlson, Splunk’s President and Chief Growth Officer, who joined Splunk from AWS six months ago. “It addresses the argument that Splunk is expensive. With Workload Pricing, customers wont have to worry about the number of Workloads they have with Splunk, or limit the ingest. IT will provide more than a 40% reduction of effective cost per GB.”

“We had got a lot of feedback around this from partners,” said Brooke Cunningham, Splunk area vice president, global partner marketing and experience “They told us that pricing was a major roadblock for them – specifically that the ingest model and customers paying for the amount of data they put in was a major roadblock to getting more data ingested.”

The reworking of the partner program was also due to partner feedback. Cunningham stressed that it’s much more than a name change.

“I would characterize this as a completely reimagined program,” Cunningham said.

The goals of the new Splunk Partnerverse Program are to expand technical expertise, demonstrate core competencies with a new badge system, and showcase joint customer success.

“This program is more tuned to digital transformation around the Splunk platform,” Carlson said. “Partners span all these different universes, and have deep expertise in industries that we don’t. Those resources have to come together better to support the customers.”

The new badging system is a key way of accomplishing this, by differentiating partner competencies and enhancing offerings across industries, technology and use cases.

“We are really shifting away from the different tracks around Go-to-Market  relationships,” Cunningham said. “The badges are part of a more modular engagement model to simplify how partners engage with us. Now, regardless of their business model, whether they are resellers or MSPs, there are specific motions for them like selling, building, professional services, and providing managed services.

“We are really leaning in on badges,” Cunningham added. “Partners told us that we needed more enablement, and that they want to be able to differentiate themselves and emphasize their expertise and unique specializations. The feedback I received around this fueled the changes. There was this ask around marketing, especially in shifting to an all-digital world. Smaller partners didn’t have as many of those capabilities on their own.”

Achievement of the foundational badges is not the end of the story, however. Their achievement unlocks trees for each which lead to further benefits once their components are achieved.

“We want our partners to engage in those other specializations,” Cunningham said.

Six badges have been announced so far: Cloud Migration Services; Zero Trust Services; Observability; Security; Managed Service; System Integration; and Authorized Learning. Three of these are available immediately – Cloud Migration, Zero Trust Services, and Authorized Learning excellence.

“Authorized Learning Partners is for our credentialled training partners, of which Clearshark is one,” Cunningham said. “They help train partners, and this is a badge we have been highlighting.”

“Observability is another badge which has had a lot of demand.

“There has been a big ask from our partners here,” Cunningham indicated. “They want enablement on that.”

While the badges reshape the nature of the program, the tiering itself has not changed from the Splunk Partner Plus Program.

“We aren’t changing the three tiers,” Cunningham said. “Elites still need at least one certification.”

The new program also remakes the Partner Solutions Catalogue, to better highlight partners and their services for customers.

“We had a Partner Locator before, but it was not at this level,” Cunningham said. “It’s a major prospect that we have invested in, to better feature partner services and solutions and put them in our top level of marketing.”

Splunk also announced a new type of relationship with a partner involving global systems integrator Accenture. The two companies have formed a joint business group will expand their working relationship with Accenture to another 11 groups within the GSI.

“This new model is very exciting, and is a first for us,” Cunningham said. “It comes with mutual investments from both of us. This is a blueprint for how we would love to see more of our SI relationships grow, with mutual investments from both.”