The Channel Futures Podcast No. 22: The Most Interesting Channel Program in the Industry

In this episode, channel insights from Nutanix channel chief Rodney Foreman and technology thought leadership from SAP global channel head Karl Fahrbach

Partner programs at tech companies are evolving. They are getting smarter, better focused and more creative.

Just this week, Unitrends unveiled a refreshed Channel and Alliance Program. It boasts new tools, resources and support for Unitrends channel partners. Good stuff, indeed.

But the most interesting channel program development might very well be the one that Nutanix, the Silicon Valley provider of enterprise software that “melds private, public and distributed cloud operating environments with a single point of control to manage IT infrastructure and applications at any scale,” has introduced.

This month, the company has taken the wraps off its new Velocity program, which includes new incentives and marketing investments for strategic, midmarket-focused channel partners. As part of the program, Nutanix has teamed with Lenovo to provide specific product bundles for midmarket customers based on the HX appliance. That’s from my colleague Edward Gately’s article on Channel Partners.

But the real news is how Nutanix has completely rethought what a partner program should be. A fanciful way for tiering discounts, support and marketing assistance? That’s not how built its partner program, says Rodney Foreman, vice president of global channel sales at the hyper-converged infrastructure company.

Rodney Foreman

Foreman doesn’t even like to use the word “program.” It’s too definitional, too limiting, he says. He prefers the word “charter.”

Intrigued, I reached out this week to learn first-hand on what makes his makes the Nutanix vision so unique. Program levels aren’t based on revenue, head count or geography. It’s all about the relative investment, skills and capabilities that you bring to the fore in a market sector, Foreman says.

What does that translate to? Well, in the Nutanix world, there are no precious stones or metals. There’re no Platinum, Diamond or Silver-levels, in other words. Instead partners are categorized as Pioneers, Scalers and Masters. Pioneers are newbies who have just joined with the company; Scalers are companies that are experiencing strong growth and need additional support; and Masters are companies that are off and running on their own. Each category needs different rewards, incentives and forms of support, Nutanix believes.

“We feel what we are doing is so unique that we are looking to patent certain aspects of it,” says Foreman. “I’ve never seen anything like this in the software industry, and, so far, it’s extremely successful because we are finding that all of a sudden some of the smaller partners that we have in our network… have been able to grow their businesses exponentially within a few months.”

If this sounds intriguing, then take note: the “charter” isn’t for everyone. Foreman is looking for those willing to make a real commitment to Nutanix.

“I don’t want to forego customer satisfaction and customer success for volume of partners,” says Foreman. “We’ve got too good of a reputation in the industry to risk damaging that because one day a partner is Bob’s Bait Shop and the next day they are a Nutanix partner. I’m not interested in that.”

But for those willing to make an investment and a commitment to the company, Nutanix offers distinction, opportunity and plenty of support. This includes partners of almost any size. If you have great technical expertise, valuable customer relationships or unique market insight, regardless of your size, then Nutanix wants to hear from you.

In addition to Foreman, we also hear in this episode from SAP SVP channel head, Karl Fahrbach. Fahrbach has AI, big data and more on his mind.

Karl Fahrback

Here's hoping you’ll enjoy this episode of The Channel Futures Podcast. If you’d like to be a guest on an upcoming episode or have a comment, drop me a line at [email protected]. (KNect365 is the division at Informa that includes Channel Futuresand our colleagues at Channel Partners.)

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