Channel Partners

FAL 2015

For 25 years, Channel Partners has been a resource for indirect sales channels, such as agents, VARs and dealers, that provide network-based communications and computing services, associated CPE and applications, and managed and professional services

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company is on record saying it would prefer it to be 100 percent. Jim Ritchings, F5's senior vice president of worldwide channels and alliances, attributes the company's consistent growth, from a couple hundred million to $1.4 billion, as something it achieved by having its channel "right there with us, adding to our growth, adding to our market leadership. We could not have done it without them." What can cloud vendors, including service providers spinning up their own cloud offerings, learn from companies that, like F5 but also Cisco, HP, Microsoft and IBM, not only say they have a solid channel focus but also walk the walk? A commitment to the channel means listening to partners and building programs around the thought leadership that comes from that listening. It's about keeping channel partners motivated, incented and educated. What vendors get in return is more confident, skilled and certified partner sales and technical teams, which means more investment in products and services and happier end customers. Oh, and The 2112 Strategy Group estimates that the channel generates nearly $500 billion in annual sales. So there's that. Make no mistake — partners will walk away from deals, even with cloud vendors noted for great products, if the agreement will be bad for their business. Managed Computer Services, a cybersecurity solutions provider, did just that. "How flexible the vendor is on discussing your concerns with the agree- ment will show you how flexible they are going to be with you as a partner," says Don Weir, MCS' CMO. "There are always other vendors with the same or similar products." Before metrics, before MDFs and before incentive programs there is the vendor-partner relationship. BUILDING BLOCKS: CULTURE & TOOLS Babar Batla, CEO and co-founder of SalesIntel — whose business is the science behind relationships — defines what makes a great channel. "It acts like the vendor's extended sales force," says Batla. "They know the product well. They understand the customer's pain and are able to make that match between the Cloud & The Channel: A Matter of Trust Cloud changes how IT is delivered in plenty of ways, but there's one constant: Relationships matter. Technology can make or break any organization, and complexity is at an all-time high, so you'd better believe decision-makers value partners who they believe have their best interests at heart. This emphasis on relationships based on trust are the essence of why the channel model will not only survive the shift to a services-based future, it will thrive. When customers no longer have that "security blanket" of a closetful of servers and storage hardware, the customer/solutions provider bond is everything. By Dede Haas That's a lesson most long-standing tech vendors have taken to heart, and that cloud upstarts are learning. A study last year by ZS Associates showed that half of all VARs selling products as cloud services are dissatis- fied with how their vendors listen to and act on their feedback. Cloud titans Amazon and Google aren't exactly poster children for channel, to put it mildly. In contrast, take F5 — at least 90 percent of its revenue comes through its channel sales partners, and the 24 CHANNEL PARTNERS FALL 2015 FEATURE

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