GitLab launches first annual US Partner Leadership Summit to highlight major rethinking of partner program and approach to partners

The Leadership Summit highlights some specific initiatives, but the major focus is GitLab’s recent reconceptualization of its alliance and channel programs to get partners working more collaboratively with GitLab.

Nima Badiey, VP of Global Alliances at GitLab

Today, in Chicago, DevOps platform provider GitLab, is announcing the launch of their first annual US Partner Leadership Summit. The Summit is detailing the growth of the company’s channel program, but it also emphasized how it had been restructured to encompass a fundamentally different type of partnering model.

“We reviewed the whole idea of partnerships, that in this day and age it makes more sense to bring channel reseller and alliance partners together to work on more complex problems under a single umbrella,” said Nima Badiey, VP of Global Alliances at GitLab. “That journey is not a simple one, as it involves questions of which tools they need to modernize.”

The restructured program involves more joint collaboration between strategic partners, which includes large players like AWS, Google Cloud, Azure and IBM, and the reseller channel, which was previously limited to fulfillment, but which has been expanded and given a much clearer value-add focus.

“Any initiative like this will have a three-year maturation cycle, with the first group being early adopters, the second being laggards coming up, and the third being the ones who come in through proselytizing,” Badey said. “Many partners get it. They have been whispering it themselves under bated breath. They want this. The channel and alliances organizations at Google are doing this as well. These kinds of changes are not easy but are C-suite led, and because of COVID we have seen a move to modernizing and being edge first.”

Badiey highlighted GitLab’s relationship with Observability Provider platform provider Dynatrace, emphasizing that the companies are part of the submission of an Open Source feature, OpenFeature, to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation [CNCF] for consideration as a Sandbox the open source community. The consortium includes Dynatrace, Google, LaunchDarkly, GitLab, Split, Flagsmith, and CloudBees.

“This is part of the original intent of creating a more meaningful partner program,” Badiey stressed. “Building trust with partners in this way makes it easier to have these constructive technical problems together, and to be a lot more partner-friendly in how we develop joint solutions.”

Eric Horsman, Dynatrace’s Global Director Technical Alliances

“We have relationships with hyperscalers which involves a variety of testing,” said Eric Horsman, Dynatrace’s Global Director Technical Alliances. “We partner with best of breed across DevOps. Our partnership together puts observability on top of the CI/CD platform, and we then add a collaboration platform on top like Slack. We are doing this with our customers everywhere. This involves sales to our own customer base or where we have joint customers already. Sometimes the customer brings us together.”

GitLab is stressing how the redesigned GitLab Alliance Partner Program brings together the partner ecosystem in a way that better aligns to the unique value and contributions these partnerships bring to GitLab and our customers.

“We have also changing our support around it, such as marketing to be less feature-oriented, and better explain these advantages,” Badiey said.

The new programs reviewed at the event includes the GitLab Certified Training Partner Program, which became generally available in March 2022. It lets certified partners sell and deliver GitLab Education Services directly to customers and leverage GitLab Licensed courseware in their service practices around the globe.

“The early field polls coming back are very positive, particularly around it’s being channel positive,” Badiey said.

In the past year, GitLab grew the number of channel and alliance partners in the Partner Program by more than 75%, adding new partners like Dynatrace, Secure Code Warrior, and Sirius Federal In the last fiscal year, the company saw a 292% increase in alliance partners onboarded. Additionally, to date, the company has issued 2,700 GitLab certifications – 1,500 in the last fiscal year – as well as 65 Professional Services and Training Partner certifications.