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Goodbye Cloudera Connect, Hello Cloudera Partner Network

The enterprise data management company has revamped its channel program. Find out what’s new.

Kelly Teal

November 2, 2022

5 Min Read
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Cloudera has redesigned its channel program. On Wednesday, the enterprise data management company replaced Cloudera Connect with Cloudera Partner Network.

Cloudera Connect was born once Cloudera merged with Hortonworks in 2019. That initiative “did a good job of getting all the basics … but it wasn’t modern … and wasn’t what our current partners were used to,” Rachel Tuller, head of global partner strategy and alliances at Cloudera, told Channel Futures. “That’s why I was actually brought in.”

Tuller joined Cloudera in April 2021 from Veeam Software, where she led global channel marketing. She also has worked with partners at Citrix, BCS and CompTIA. With a range of experience under her belt, Tuller brought ideas to Cloudera for modernizing the channel approach. The outcome is Cloudera Partner Network.

As seems to be the case with most channel program revamps, Cloudera is touting better tools and go-to-market support as a primary draw.

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Cloudera’s Rachel Tuller

“Partner experience is top of mind for me,” Tuller said.

As such, the new portal lets users access by persona (so a salesperson, for instance, doesn’t have to view what the business manager might consider important). It also contains “market accelerators” – “What partners want is leads,” Tuller said – so partners may download prepackaged campaigns. Finally, there are courses and certifications.

Showing Partners the Money

When it comes to money, partners can expect more financial commitment from Cloudera. That’s due to new rebate and market development fund programs. Now, any partner may submit MDF proposals.

“Even if it’s a new product or a new partner, we want them to be able to have access to funding,” Tuller said.

Incidentally, look for Cloudera Partner Network to start referring to MDFs as “PDFs” – or partner development funds – as of 2023. There will be logistics changes behind that nomenclature, including more training and enablement.

“Enablement is the new currency for partners,” Tuller said.

Tuller could not share more details around the PDF effort.

“We have some things to work out on the back end,” she said.

The key takeaway, she noted, is that Cloudera is taking advantage of “an opportunity to become competitive and deliver to our partners what they already get from other vendors.”

In other financial enhancements, Cloudera Partner Network will feature shorter-term promotions and offer incentives for wins such as net-new logos and new customers. For CDP One, Cloudera’s new SaaS-based data lakehouse platform, partners will earn higher percentage discounts or referral fees. Cloudera also will offer a range of marketing and training options to entice partners to sell CDP One.

“This is something that will appeal to a smaller-size enterprise versus a large enterprise,” Tuller said. “We think this is going to be a strong play for our MSP audience.”

Taking a ‘Concierge’ Approach to the Channel

Meanwhile, speaking of enablement, Cloudera now offers channel experts a dedicated partner success team.

“I think of this as a concierge service,” Tuller said.

It’s geography-based, so partners can turn to Cloudera Partner Network teams in their specific regions for help. Cloudera has employees in North America, EMEA and Asia-Pacific. Staff will be available around the clock, five days a week.

“We know that partners do better when they have the resources they need, when they’re trained properly,” Tuller said.

Finally, there’s a Fast Track program to get partners off the ground with Cloudera faster.

“It shortens their time to first sale, which is really key,” Tuller said,

When it comes to new partners, Cloudera is hoping to attract more managed service providers.

“They can benefit a lot from working with Cloudera,” Tuller said.

That’s because …

… most MSPs already manage cloud infrastructure, and other aspects of IT, for customers.

But Cloudera appears to mainly be targeting independent software vendors.

“We’re a neutral, Switzerland-type platform, so we want the ability for these point solutions – finance, manufacturing, retail – to build on top of Cloudera,” Tuller said. “We’re investing heavily in our ISV program … to allow these vendors to certify fairly effortlessly.”

As a recession looms and companies continue to trim budgets and staff, Cloudera is leaning on ISVs to help end users control costs and manage their data. Tuller said that because Cloudera integrates with the hyperscalers and private cloud providers, ISVs reduce their development time, saving customers money. Some MSPs are doing ISV work too and Cloudera is seeing that, Tuller said.

“That’s a trend we’re noticing and something we’re definitely planning for,” she said.

Time to Prepare

Cloudera’s 4,500 partners have time to prepare for the switch from Cloudera Connect to Cloudera Partner Network. The official cutover is set for Feb. 1, 2023. Depending on when partners earned their most recent certifications, Cloudera will move them into the Cloudera Partner Network tier it considers most appropriate. Partners will be able to ask for reconsideration, if that seems necessary.

Cloudera Partner Network functions on tiers — Member, Select, Premier and Strategic. As partners earn points and competencies, they move up. Each tier brings its own discounts and benefits. Tuller said Cloudera chose a tier structure over the more nascent lifecycle compensation approach, although there is a little bit of the latter mixed in.

“Competencies and points are the new currency we’re using,” she said.

In other words, the more partners sell or undergo training and certification, or expand within current customers, or specialize in a certain vertical or technology, “they will earn points along that lifecycle,” Tuller said.

“It’s a slightly different model. It’s almost a hybrid of tiering and competencies.”

All in all, Tuller is bullish on the new Cloudera Partner Network.

“Cloudera’s never seen this level of investment before in the partner ecosystem,” Tuller said. “It’s game-changing.”

Cloudera competes against companies including Snowflake, Databricks, MongoDB and Teradata.

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Kelly Teal or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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About the Author(s)

Kelly Teal

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Kelly Teal has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist, editor and analyst, with longtime expertise in the indirect channel. She worked on the Channel Partners magazine staff for 11 years. Kelly now is principal of Kreativ Energy LLC.

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