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One of the more frustrating aspects of being a solution provider is the number of channel programs you have to participate in, even when there are two or more vendors that are selling something that they are mutually dependent upon to deliver. With the rise of cloud computing that’s becoming a whole lot more common because most cloud services generally have to integrate with something that is already running on premise.

NetApp has become one of the first vendors to recognize that with the launch today of a GetSuccessful Cloud Services Program that allows NetApp partners selling cloud services to offer those services for resale via the NetApp channel.

While many solution providers may opt to build their own cloud, more will probably look to resell cloud services such as data protection given that the investment required to build that kind of cloud service can be cost prohibitive. Solution providers that participate in the NetApp channel program can opt to resell cloud storage services provided by companies that have already made that investment.

NetApp also announced it is participating in VMware’s RealWorld Advantage campaign, which provides solution providers with various joint sales and marketing tools to help them accelerate sales opportunities and generate leads for VMware and NetApp products.This expansion of the NetApp channel program is designed to help push the FAS2200 series, a storage offering that can be configured as network attached storage (NAS) server or storage area network (SAN) that now includes a layer of flash memory to substantially improve performance.

According to Todd Palmer, NetApp vice president of Americas channel sales, one of primary use case for the cloud is data protection services. Rather than invest in deploying what amounts to a duplicate set of IT infrastructure just to make sure data is available, organizations are increasingly taking advantage of cloud services. In fact, a recent According to a recent study conducted by the market research form Enterprise Storage Group, found that 74 percent of all midsize businesses will increase expenditures on cloud services in 2012.

Most customers are probably going to wind building a private cloud for primary storage, while taking advantage of public cloud services to either archive or backup data. That might ultimately reduce the number of storage systems actually sold by solution providers, so it will become increasingly important for solution providers to make sure they find ways to help customers manage that data. NetApp itself has no plans to create its own cloud, preferring says Palmer, to remain neutral.

Ideally, Palmer says NetApp would prefer to see its large base of partners align with a few key cloud service providers that base their services on NetApp storage technologies. There’s no absolute requirement to do that. But Palmer notes that when NetApp storage is used both on premise and in the cloud the process of storing that data becomes easier.

Cloud computing will obviously transform business models across the channel. NetApp is essentially creating a federated channel made up of service providers and resellers. As Palmer notes, those service providers have little experience setting up their own channel programs. By essentially making those service providers an extension of its channel, NetApp is hoping to get those service providers up to speed on the channel much sooner than later.