The data storage and management vendor repositions for a channel shift to services and a spending rebound.

NetApp has updated its Unified Partner Program to offer rewards to partners that consume its platform or influence the sales process. The data storage and management company is also aligning the incentives it provides partners that resell its platforms with strategic initiatives, such as the FlexPod hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) platform and the various cloud services NetApp now offers.

NetApp is also revamping its specialization to better align with those strategic initiatives by providing additional incentives for joining the Integration Services Certified, Lifecycle Services Certified, and NetApp Keystone Services Certified programs.

Finally, the NetApp partner locator is being redesigned to make it easier for end customers to discover more specialized NetApp partners.

Changing channel sales

As the way IT platforms are consumed continues to evolve, the company is making an effort to expand the types of partners it engages, said Chris Lamborn, head of global partner go to market and programs for NetApp. For example, NetApp is now providing individuals that set up meetings or register deals with rewards for performing those tasks.

Further reading: Vetting Vendors is Key to Cloud Sales and Success for MSPs

While the roots of NetApp are planted firmly in storage systems, the company’s portfolio has grown to include FlexPod HCI infrastructure developed in collaboration with Cisco, managed services for deploying Kubernetes clusters, a serverless computing framework for invoking data in the cloud, and a set of cloud optimization tools.

The company is now trying to provide partners with additional motivation to sell a broader swath of offerings by creating specializations that align more closely with how partners structure the services they provide their end customers, said Lamborn. “This is really a transition we’ve been going through for the past two to three years,” he said.

Of course, the more partners attach various NetApp offerings to any deal, the more profitable they become. The overall goal is to increase partner profitability by ensuring they have the expertise required to succeed, noted Lamborn.

Channel opportunities rebound with spending

Partners these days are asked to navigate a dizzying array of specializations that are often tied to a specific product. The approach, however, creates a disconnect between how partners structure their business based on the services they provide to an end customer. The typical partner is, for example, delivering a set of data center services that are rarely tied to a single product or platform.

Overall, Lamborn said that in addition to seeing increased consumption of NetApp cloud services in the past year driven in part by the COVID-19 pandemic, NetApp expects to see a refresh of on-premises IT environments in the second half as the overall economy improves and more IT teams return to the data center. While there may be more data than ever in the cloud, Lamborn noted the bulk of enterprise applications continue to run in on-premises IT environments.

Competition among providers of on-premises platforms for that business will be especially stiff. IT vendors are pulling out all the stops to encourage partners to either remain loyal or switch their allegiances. In fact, it’s arguable that for those that have withstood the trials and tribulations of the recent economic downturn, there might now be no better time to be a channel partner.