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Victor Dellovo, president of Modcomp‘s systems and solutions division, counts his company among the few enterprise partners that have prospered with CA (Computer Associates International).

Over the years, CA’s attempts to create an enterprise channel have conflicted with the company’s direct sales force. But Dellovo says Modcomp’s engineering strength has been the key to establishing a solid business relationship with CA. Over the span of four years, the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., reseller grounded its engineers in BrightStor, then eTrust and finally Unicenter.

As a result, CA’s direct sales force “can lean on us,” Dellovo says. In general, an ally with solid engineering skills extends CA’s presence in local markets, providing both pre-sales and post-sales support, he adds.

CA now wants to emulate its relationship with Modcomp on a wider scale. The software company last week unveiled its ESP (Enterprise Solution Provider) program, which CA says is designed for high-end VARs, consultants and solution providers. CA plans to recruit 150 such allies to represent its enterprise product line in North America.

Gary Quinn, executive vice president of partner advocacy at CA, says the ESP program marks the culmination of six months’ work. Quinn outlined his plans for the enterprise channel late last year. Resellers such as Modcomp helped shape the program.

ESP puts a premium on building the resellers’ technical skills. Prospective partners must complete sales and technical certification to maintain ESP status. The ESP program offers the required training, both online and instructor-led, free of charge, says Dan Schwartz, vice president of partner program marketing at CA.

“It’s very important for CA to have a group of quality partners who can handle our high-end enterprise products,” Schwartz says. Customers who lack the time and money to build out their IT departments are looking for partners with the “agility and technical expertise to get them up to speed quickly,” he said.

For partners, getting engineers up to speed on CA products will require a commitment of time and resources. Dellovo acknowledges the costs of travel and engineering time associated with training. “But it’s a give-and-take relationship,” he says, noting that other vendors put a price tag on the training itself. “I think CA is very giving on that piece of it.”

Another ESP component is a deal registration program, which guarantees that a partner will get a percentage of the registered deal even if it is delivered through another channel. In addition, CA’s CIC (Customer Interaction Center) offers a revenue generation program, in which a CIC salesperson will be assigned to an ESP.

The idea is to provide a dedicated resource to help partners with such issues as cultivating new customers, penetrating existing accounts and pursuing specific vertical markets. The CIC also will provide lead-generation services for interested ESPs.

Other ESP elements include 24/7 technical support, a reference library developed by CA’s technical personnel and a rebate program. The latter offers rebates of up to 11 percent. Quinn says revenue goals won’t be the only factor in determining the rebate. Executing market plans and staying current on certification will be emphasized as well.

Certification seems to be central to CA’s latest enterprise channel effort. Compensation neutrality is one thing. But the Modcomp experience shows that engineers who can move a sale along and provide top-flight implementation support also can get the direct sales force on the channel’s side.

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