Equinix Launches Global Partner Program
Equinix recently launched a new global channel partner program, which allows partners to resell and refer the interconnection and data center provider's services.
Designed for managed service providers (MSPs), network service providers (NSPs), system integrators (SIs) and solution providers (SPs), the new program enables enterprise customers to get the IT and cloud services they need from their trusted partners. This has become more important as more customers look for turnkey solutions that include other offerings such as business continuity and disaster recovery.
Evolving from a largely direct-sell strategy, Equinix had to make major changes in its sales organization. Before the launch of the global partner program, Equinix had a program for referral partners and sales agents, and approximately half its customers were considered partners because of a resale provision in the contracts. This resulted in a conflict between the direct sales organization and the customer/partners, according to Pete Hayes, chief sales officer.
The company had to decide if it was going to be a direct organization, a partner organization or a combination of both, said Hayes. "We decided that we wanted to be a combination of both, which means you have to do some things differently. You have to take away the conflict between the direct sales organization and the channel, and make sure they work together on opportunities, instead of competing with each other."
Equinix faced other challenges. "We had some resale provisions in the contract, but we didn't have any standard global pricing; we didn't have a way to work with the partners, and we didn't have partner enablement," Hayes said.
Partners also wanted to be well-versed in Equinix's product strategy and to understand the value proposition that the direct sales team used to sell the Equinix solution. "They were concerned about getting trained, and making sure they had fair and competitive pricing—many wanted a level-playing field," said Hayes.
At this point, Equinix started to build a global professional channel organization. The result was several ways for partners to engage with Equinix—as a referral agent, a reseller or as a technology (cloud or network) platform provider. The company also added standard pricing, a rebate structure based on volume, a registration process and training modules.
"While we launched a global framework for how companies can become a partner, how we on-board them, how we support them and how we map resources to them, we had to specialize the program to cater to the sales motion, said Christopher Rajiah, vice president of worldwide partner alliances.
For example, in the reseller program, Equinix created four tiers of partnership—bronze, silver, gold and platinum. As the partners move through the tiers, both the requirements—including revenue and training—and benefits increase in terms of the offerings, dedicated resources, deal registration and price parity, added Rajiah.
The referral partnership is a different engagement model where the benefit is the commission payment. The program offers different methods of commission and is tiered based on the type of referral partner—sales agent/consultant or master agent.
Technology partnerships with leading cloud service providers offer multiple benefits, Rajiah said. "Not only are we investing in the strategic alliances from a company strategy, global footprint, product offering and go-to-market dollars invested on both sides, these partnerships contribute to the reseller community and enable them to truly help enterprises leverage the power of the cloud," he said.
Equinix counts AWS, Cisco, Google Cloud Platform, IBM SoftLayer, Microsoft Azure and NetApp among its partners.
The company has a similar program for network service providers and is working to on-board some of the leading providers.
Equinix has approximately 250 referral partners and about 20 reseller partners with a target of 300 prospects. Service providers that have joined the partner program include Carpathia, Datalink, Datapipe, Dimension Data and Unitas Global. There also are a few hundred customer/partners that the company is transitioning into the program.
About 15 to 20 percent of Equinix's revenue comes from the channel today, and company executives expect the percentage to grow to 30 percent in 2016 and 40 percent in 2017. "Ultimately, I believe it should be 50 percent or more of the company's revenue," said Hayes.
Gina Roos, a Channel Insider contributor, focuses on technology and the channel.