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Aspen Technology is hoping it has the right formula to attract VARs to sell its process optimization software.

The company, which targets the chemical, oil and gas, and pharmaceutical sectors, launched its formal partner program in July and is currently on a recruitment drive to double its partner base.

“For Aspen Technology to continue its growth, we developed internationally with our solutions, but realized we needed to develop a partner strategy. We currently work with system integrators and consultancies,” said Mark Walls, director of worldwide partner operations at Aspen Technology.

Walls said the vendor recruits partners by finding out from its customers who their trusted advisers are for their IT systems. “Our technology is very sophisticated and complex, so we need to have the right partners that are able to build solutions around our software. We have 50 partners at the moment, and we are looking to double this,” he added.

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In July the firm launched its Aspen Technology Partner Network, which is structured around three subcategories; Channel Partners, Solution Partners and System Integrators. “Solution Partners and System Integrators add their own IP to our offering, Channel Partners are more logistical,” Walls said. The program includes marketing development funding, a partner portal and discounts on licenses. The firm also incentivizes its direct sales force to work with partners, although Walls said it is usual that the direct sales teams focus on bigger deals than its partners.

He added that it was hard for the vendor to find partners that operate in its niche markets. “The people we work with tend to be chemical engineers first and software developers second,” he said. However, the company recently signed three new partners to its program: Zenith Technologies, which focuses on the pharmaceuticals market; Applied Control Engineering, a generalist company handling Aspen Technology’s production management system; and IMA Industrial, which works with processing plants.