NetApp Rolls Out Changes to Partner Program, Adds Digital Transformation Tier

NetApp’s annual partner program update emphasizes broadened product portfolio.

Jeffrey Schwartz

May 2, 2019

5 Min Read
Roll out

NetApp has kicked off its fiscal year 2020 with several changes to its partner program, including a combined designation of service providers and resellers. The changes, introduced to partners today in an announcement in NetApp’s partner portal, include added incentives to revisit existing accounts, expanded competitive displacement rebates and a new tier focused on digital transformation.


NetApp’s Chris Lamborn

The company characterizes the changes as evolutionary updates rather than the launch of an entirely new program. NetApp updates its partner program at the beginning of each new fiscal year, which for the company began Monday, April 29. “We’ve built a solid market-leading program over the last few years, which has evolved, and we continue to keep it up to date,” Chris Lamborn, NetApp’s head of worldwide partner GTM and programs, told Channel Futures.

Lamborn said NetApp is also improving some key processes, such as eliminating the need for partners to claim rebates by entering information into a tool and waiting for the company to validate then. “Partners were missing opportunities to receive rebates and incentives,” he said. The new process  automatically validates and issues rebates and incentive payments, while giving partners visibility into the status, he added.

NetApp has also added Nutanix and Pure Storage to the list of suppliers it will offer added incentives to for partners who displace their infrastructure with NetApp solutions. The competitive displacement program also includes DellEMC, HPE, IBM and Hitachi, with incentives of up to $220,000 per opportunity, according to Lamborn.


NetApp’s Jeff McCullough

NetApp’s move to integrate service providers and resellers into its Unified Partner Program, is a reflection of the overlap among the two groups that has evolved in recent years. Increasingly, systems integrators and service providers also resell, while very few only focus on the latter these days, said Jeff McCullough, NetApp’s vice president of Americas partner sales. “If look at all the different partners, they are all investing beyond just traditional resell motions, because they all see  where the puck heading is,” McCullough said.

Lamborn added that by unifying the two programs, it will  simplify the relationship for both partners and NetApp. “We have had a lot of requests from new partners, some partners focused purely around cloud solutions or focused primarily around HCI solutions, who are wanting to join the NetApp  Unified Partner Program and start to earn the benefits [as resellers do],” Lamborn said.

“We’ve changed the entry points, so that the certification requirements and the business requirements are now much broader,” he added. “The relevance of whether you’re coming in, based on traditional storage, based around HCI or based around the cloud, or even within the ‘as-a service’ certification, you’re able to benefit within that.”

John Woodall, vice president of engineering at Integrated Archive Systems, a NetApp partner, welcomed…

…the changes. “It’s a reflection of NetApp’s changes as a company and their offerings and their portfolio,” he said. “And I think it’s appropriate for NetApp to provide a program that reflects that reality.”

In addition to its core storage and flash arrays, NetApp has recently added compute and networking with its FlexPod hyperconverged infrastructure and has launched its Cloud Volumes, which are managed offerings that let organization migrate business critical file services and workloads to Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud Platform.

NetApp has also recently rolled out Cloud Volumes ONTAP to provide hybrid and public cloud data management and its new Memory Accelerated Data (MAX Data). Based on Intel’s new Optane DC persistent memory, NetApp claims MAX Data provides near-zero-latency application performance for analytics solutions.

Many of these new offerings will play well among organizations embarking on digital transformation initiatives. NetApp’s new Digital Transformation tier aims to provide hands on-training for partners who have engineers focused in fields such as data science, Lamborn said. NetApp is providing live training for those engineers looking to move into that tier.

“This isn’t around  getting web-based training, because that’s not how businesses evolve,” Lamborn said. “It’s around having knowledgeable and educated individuals that can sit down with the engineers, with the architects, with the users in the partners who are building the solutions with customers and help them build those solutions.”

Integrated Archive’s Woodall said demand for digital transformation has moved beyond the hype stage. “I can’t think of a single CIO top 10 priority list that I’ve read in the last few months that hasn’t had digital transformation somewhere on their list,” he said. “Clearly that’s something that customers have a high strategic interest in. And being able to identify partners who have the capabilities and the practices and with the demonstrated capability on top of that is an important recognition.”

While NetApp has incented its network of partners to move business into new accounts over the past few years, the company is now taking steps to encourage them to double down on existing customers. That’s largely the outgrowth of the expanded offerings that NetApp offers.

“Regardless of the  relationship you have with the customer, NetApp is going to incent you to either keep bringing new customers into the NetApp fold or expand the portfolio in existing accounts,” Lamborn said. “And that’s probably not something that you would have heard from NetApp four or five years ago because  we didn’t have any other products to expand with.”

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About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

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