NetApp launches silver partner tier

NetApp launches silver partner tier

Storage vendor flags SMB as a key growth market in the next 12 months

NetApp is launching a silver partner tier as part of efforts to ramp up SMB sales. Speaking at the vendor's A/NZ Partner Summit, partner director, Scott Morris, said the move was designed to recognise smaller resellers working with its StoreVault SMB product line and encourage registered partners to skill up. StoreVault was rolled out locally last year.

While StoreVault had experienced "moderate success" since its launch, Morris said NetApp was looking for significant improvement.

"This is about recognising an SMB tier as a sub-channel within our reseller ranks," he said. "We're now in the process of recruiting and training these partners, which is the focus this year - identifying the right channel to take us into new marketplaces."

Morris didn't specify how many silver partners it hoped to sign, but managing director of NetApp's local distributor SAN Systems, Scott Frew, said its 1000-strong reseller base across networking, security and storage would be the place to start. SAN Systems is one of several distribution businesses managed under Distribution Central.

"We're trying to encourage more cross-selling between the silos," Frew said. "Any reseller in infrastructure who isn't already involved in storage should be looking at it."

NetApp also has platinum and gold partners that commit to levels of technical and sales training as well as revenue targets.

Growing the channel's services capability and reach is the cornerstone of NetApp's expansion plans this year. Last November, it launched an Authorised Professional Services Partner (APSP) program to transition more professional services work to its indirect channel. Storage integrator, XSI Data Solutions, became the first partner to achieve APSP status last month. Morris expects four more integrators to step up during this financial year.

NetApp has also been offering a raft of free pre-sales, sales and technical training and brought on two dedicated trainers in recent months.

Morris said one key strategy for growth this year was to have more partners providing services into its named customer accounts. Other initiatives include an increased focus on business planning with partners, as well as proposal-based marketing funding and bigger deal registration discounts.

NetApp is also in the process of transitioning all direct partners across to buying through distribution. While recognising direct partner concerns, Morris said handing over operational work to SAN Systems allowed NetApp's internal channel team to focus more on business development, lead generation and enabling partners.

Indirect sales currently make up almost one-third of NetApp's business. This is expected to reach 40 per cent by this time next year.

- Nadia Cameron travelled to the NetApp Partner Summit as a guest of NetApp.

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