Storage vendor, NetApp, is bolstering its internal channel headcount and restructuring incentive programs in a bid to drive partner relationships.
Partner director, Scott Morris, said the vendor was investing $2 million into building its channel enablement team and has appointed Tanya Pugsley to head it up. She was previously focused on developing NetApp's Authorised Professional Services Program (APSP) and service partner relationships. It has also brought on two additional partner trainers.
"We now have a common platform for partners around enablement, certification, business plans and bringing on new partners," Morris said. "There's no sales staff involved in the enablement team - our first priority has been coming up with the communications framework for A/NZ."
Last year, NetApp outlined plans to get 30 per cent of sales through channel partners, a figure it had achieved, Morris said. He hoped to get this up to 40 per cent within the next 12 months.
As part of efforts to grow partner skills, the vendor launched free training last year. Morris said 200 partners had been trained in sales and pre-sales skills to date.
"We want to get 400 additional partners trained in the next 12 months," he said.
With five value managed partners now on the books - Commander, Frontline Systems, XSI Data Solutions, Dimension Data and Fujitsu - and an expanding channels team, Morris said he was looking to increase its top-tier partner ranks to 15. The vendor is also working on driving more transactional and operational channel business through recently recruited distribution partner, SAN Systems.
"This allows us to focus on generating leads and business resources for the channel and leverage distribution for sales and operational functions," he said.
SAN Systems managing director, Scott Frew, said the company had spent the past six months integrating its systems with NetApp's. SAN now has eight people in its business unit and is looking for an additional two staff.
NetApp has also restructured its rebate program for managed partners to reward investments in certifications and skills. Better margin will also be offered for new and competitive wins, linearity of business and overachievement over a quarterly period, Morris said.
"In the past the differentiation in the Value Program and our broader channel was insignificant - we want to encourage partners to skill up and get to higher level," he said.
NetApp will also offer incremental incentives of up to 7 per cent for identifying VMware sales tied to a NetApp sale from mid-year. Morris said this would help drive opportunities in the virtualisation space.