Solarwinds reorienting Go-to-Market around partners as they expand subscription and move into end-to-end observability

Solarwinds has not had a full global partner program in the past, but new global channel leader Jeff McCullough is working on one, for the second half of this year.

Jeff McCullough, Solarwinds’ VP of Worldwide Partner Sales

Since Jeff McCullough became Solarwinds’ first VP of Worldwide Partner Sales late last year, the company has been actively taking measures to better enable their channel partners. This includes making Solarwinds’ new subscription business the top priority for them. It also includes making them a key part of Solarwinds’ upcoming end-to-end enablement platform, Following the rollout of a services certification program earlier this year, Solarwinds will also be unveiling a global channel program – their first – at some point in the year’s second half.

Solarwinds now just refers to the company’s traditional network, systems and security business, following the spin-off of their MSP component as N-able last year. While the former MSP business was always channel-centric, the Solarwinds business itself has had a hybrid model.

“The partner business is important, with the importance depending on what part of the world you look at,” said Jeff McCullough, Vice President, Worldwide Partner Sales. “Asia Pacific is higher as a percentage, and North America is lower. – About 60% of our total business goes through partners. We see partners as a really strong source of pipeline and growth, and its hard to be successful without developing a really strong channel strategy.”

McCullough’s appointment itself, which dates from November 2021, indicates the higher priority being given to the channel.

“This is the first time we have had a global leader,” he said. “I’m basically rebuilding things from scratch. This fits with the vision of Sudhakar Ramakrishna, our CEO.” He took over leadership of Solarwinds in January 2021. ”The company’s vision Is to help our over 300,000 customers transform their IT vision. That requires showing them not just what’s happening, but why it’s happening , so customers can make more strategic decisions about where they invest their IT dollars.”

Observability, something that Solarwinds does not offer today, but will soon, will be a key part of this.

“We believe that we will come to the table with a differentiated strategy around observability from on-prem to cloud,” McCullough said. “It is the direction of the company. We are developing and building observability on the Solarwinds platform – built on our core IP – for later in 2022.”

McCullough stressed the importance of this end-to-end vision, not just focusing on the hot part, the cloud.

“We want to be in all the places where customers manage IT, and for that reason, it is as important to be on-prem as in the cloud,” he said. “We also introduced subscription pricing last year, and we want to have $1 billion in subscription ARR by 2025.”

The channel will be a central part of all of this and to this end, McCullough is both refining the overall channel strategy, and working on creating a full partner program, which does not exist today.

“We are building out a strategy to create value for our partners that is focused around a growth strategy and on accelerating partner profitability,” he said. “This will include enhanced marketing and business development. We have a strong customer base and a great renewal business, and as we move more deeply into subscription, there’s a great opportunity.”

McCullough noted that Solarwinds already announced a new services strategy earlier this year.

“It allows partners to be certified around delivering Solarwinds services,” he said. “Our Services Certified Program will ensure partners know what they are doing and provide them with Solarwinds-branded services that they can sell.”

The plan is to have a full partner program out later this year.

“There is already a SolarStorm program in our public sector business,” McCullough indicated. “However, we are building out a structured program globally that will be available in the second half of this year. We do over 60% of our business through partners but we have never actually structured the business to go through partners. We will have a consistent engagement program around this.”

McCullough said that in the first half of the year, at partner meetings in APAC and EMEA they talked about new enhancements to certified programs for sales and technical certification.

“In the second half of the year, we will talk about the new partner programs and new benefits designed to help partners differentiate themes,” he indicated. “Most people think of us as just IT Operations, but we have a growing ITSM portfolio, security and others. There are different things they can focus on based on the dynamics of their specific business.”

McCullough emphasized that the partner strategy does not involve a big recruitment drive.

“We don’t have an aggressive recruitment strategy,” he said. “Many partners come to us because their customers see a solution in something that we offer. They range from larger partners to those who cover a metro market. It’s easier to build up existing partners than to recruit new ones. Out of our broad list of partners we do business with, we will put special time and energy into a few. Our distribution channel works with our largest partners to our smallest, and all partners will work with distribution.”