Tuesday, 13 November 2012

“What Partner level are you?”

It’s a question I get asked reasonably often; and the implications of the answer can vary.  Just how much significance a customer puts in a partner level status, I couldn't tell you for sure and likely it varies between companies and even between individuals.
What I’d like to do in writing this is to shed some light on Partner and Deal Registration Programmes by highlighting the flaws (and to be fair to the vendors out there, the challenges – Partner Programmes are impossible to make foolproof) that I have seen in some of them over the years I've been working in this industry.
Following that, I’ll touch on ‘cutting through the sludge’.  It’s come to my attention that there are other re-sellers out there who aren't confident enough in their own abilities that they have to focus on spreading mindless tripe about their competition (which of course includes Nebulas).  Each to their own I suppose but I’ll be dissecting some of the stuff I've seen and exposing just how ridiculous this can get!

First of all a quick disclaimer. Let me say that Partner Levels do give you some indication of how proficient a re-seller is in supporting a Vendor’s products and services. You don’t become a Super Triple Platinum Elite partner for nothing. Most Partner Programmes require some level of investment, both from a Commercial and more importantly, from a Technical point of view. There are certain things that aren’t just gloss, take F5 Networks’ UNITY programme for example. In getting accredited to take F5 Level 1 and 2 support ourselves, we had to pass a very strict auditing process. Something we could not have done were we not capable and committed.

So what do you have to be wary of as a customer when reviewing a partner organisation’s capability?

Well firstly, once you get to the highest couple of levels of Partner Accreditation, you’re likely to encounter two types of Re-seller or Systems Integrator - one who does masses of volume, just as a small percentage of what they do as a wider business; and then the type that really is focused around providing technical value around that solution set.  One of the challenges, is that it is so difficult to be truly independent.  Partner Level is not just judged on technical ability and the ability to integrate the vendor’s product(s) with surrounding IT infrastructures.  The higher levels particularly always carry a number.  And those who, like we do here, try to remain as independent as possible will still have to carry that number.  Again to be fair to Product Vendors, they have a different task.  Their aim is still to deliver a good customer experience and to enhance the way in which their customers operate but the crucial difference is that the ultimate goal is to convince you that you can do that with their product!  Whereas for companies like ourselves, you may have a case where you might carry two vendors who compete with one another (two competing firewall vendors for example) and you might end up paying the price for putting your customers’ interests first.  Finding them the right fit might just cost you your Partner Level elsewhere.

Click to Read Part 2

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