The new head of the company’s channel program talks about plans for partners selling cloud data analytics.

Kelly Teal, Contributing Editor

July 24, 2020

8 Min Read
Road to Success

Cloudera this week officially announced that Gary Green has joined the company as vice president of strategic partnerships, to lead the Cloudera channel program.. He came to the cloud data analytics company earlier this year from bare metal automation vendor Packet. Green has served in his new role since March.


Cloudera’s Gary Green

Green’s history with the indirect channel dates back to the beginning of his sales career. That’s when he worked as an account executive for Mentor Graphics and Synopsys. He says he learned early on that teaming with partners results in greater reach and success. Green’s interaction with the channel ramped up in 2002 when he joined VMware as employee No. 103, and vice president of strategic alliances. Green developed VMware’s global partner strategy.

Now, Green has taken charge of Cloudera’s global partnership program. In this edited Q&A with Channel Futures, he discusses his approach to the channel and what partners can expect, particularly as Cloudera prepares to release the private version of its data platform.

Channel Futures: What is your philosophy about the partner channel and its place in tech sales?

Gary Green: There is a saying that no man is an island. It is, I believe, the same for tech vendors and B2B sales. No matter how big the opportunity is in the marketplace, a company like Cloudera needs a very strong partnering strategy to scale and grow sustainably. That some of the biggest tech companies in the world have accelerated their growth through the channel is no accident.

But I really believe that a partnering strategy is one that’s based in intrinsic value; one plus one doesn’t equal two, it equals three: It’s a “better together” solution. The benefit has to be mutual; you’ve got to invest in each other’s success, be willing to collaborate with and learn from one another. We are not the only company out there that the channel has the opportunity to partner with; therefore, we’ve got to ensure we’re helping our partners and their customers tackle their most strategic business challenges. I believe that Cloudera Connect program enables that today and we will continue to invest and evolve to ensure that it does so tomorrow.

CF: What changes to the Cloudera channel program can partners expect with you in charge?

GG: The foundation was there before I came on board; we’ve always had a strong partner ecosystem. It simply needed to be strengthened and focused for continual evolution. That’s why at the end of last year, we did a complete revamp of the Cloudera channel program to make it a truly world-class program — Cloudera Connect. This enhanced program with new cloud reselling models, market development funds and solution competencies connects Cloudera partners to new business opportunities and accelerates adoption of the Cloudera Data Platform (CDP).

We have a diverse partner network, full of VARs, ISVs, SIs, hardware vendors, cloud partners and more. Our program as it stands now ensures that all of these partners have what they need, enabling …

… proactive participation in our business on a global basis.

One thing I’m focused on is supporting partners more with marketing. For example, we’ve been looking at value prop creation with partners. Determining messaging from Cloudera and partners, and then building that out for resellers on both sides to customers is critical. The program was focused on certain partners before, but now we’re looking at everyone across the board. I restructured the organization on a global basis to ensure the right people are delivering against the right measures. We just hired Scott Musson from Red Hat to help with this. He brings in an executive level presence and has organizational agility skills. He also has a great knack for leading teams and partners through transformation.

To get more in-depth, here are main parts of the program that are new with the revamp of Cloudera Connect:

  • Enablement and business models to support cloud reselling as well as multicloud and hybrid cloud deployments. We are expanding our reseller program to a cloud model. That opens up more business opportunities.[We also are] investing in new resources and training to support partners’ efforts to build and sell CDP (training, reference architectures, sample code, best practices).

  • Market development funds. Partners can earn and access MDF to build pipeline with Cloudera. Partners receive a percentage for every new and expansion opportunity that they either resell or source. MDFs are available to partners at the silver tier and above.

  • New solution competencies. Support for partners to demonstrate to joint customers that their company has the expertise, technical capabilities, industry know-how, and proven customer success on the Cloudera platform to address specific enterprise data use cases or industry needs.

  • New sales and presales resources, including a demo center in the partner portal and regional enablement workshops.

  • Technology certification expanded to support partner products that integrate with the CDP across all deployment models (public cloud, private cloud, on-premises).

  • Updated partner portal. We’re continuing to improve on the new partner portal launched in November, to make it easier to navigate and more adaptable to specific partner needs. The partner portal offers a visual partner scorecard so partners can keep track of requirements and attainment, deal registration functionality, training and enablement resources, and more.

CF: Does Cloudera have an internal sales team that competes with the channel? If so, how do you plan to handle (or eliminate) any conflict?

GG: We have strong relationships with all the major cloud giants (AWS, Azure, GCP) and customers can certainly get Cloudera through those marketplaces, which resellers wouldn’t participate in. We also offer customers prepaid credits that they can purchase from us in one of the global cloud providers’ environments. However, most customers appreciate the closeness of a partner relationship. They realize the benefit of having that engagement deeply embedded in their organization. ISVs, VARs, etc., understand what customers are trying to solve as they get to know their business on a close, personal level.

CF: What distinguishes the Cloudera channel program from that of other vendors? Why should partners consider teaming up with the company?

GG: A big piece of it is education. We invest heavily in our partnerships, providing them the resources and tools to sell to their customers successfully. We even offer certifications, to ensure technologists and sellers feel confident and competent. This is something we’re actively doing with CDP Private, to prepare our partners for that to go GA in the coming month.

We have about 3,500 partners so by no means is …

… educating all of them an easy feat. But no matter how big or small, we hold ourselves accountable to connect with and support all partners. Our new partner training in support of CDP Public Cloud, and the rolling out of CDP Private support, will ensure they’re trained to the level where they can sequentially assess the customer at the matter critical to them.

CF: What do you intend to help Cloudera channel partners achieve by the end of this year?

GG: There are no specific partner program updates scheduled for this year. But we do plan to set our customers up for success with CDP Private and expect to see partners achieve positive results with customers there by the end of year. Recently, we had our EMEA partner summit and had almost 600 people registered, with 160 in attendance, discussing the program and ensuring that tech teams and sellers are just as knowledgeable as direct Cloudera folks. We will be having the APAC Partner Summit on Aug. 26.

CF: How will you be interacting with existing and potential partners during the pandemic?

GG: We have business continuity plans in place; we don’t currently foresee any impact on our ability to continue to deliver on our promise of uninterrupted support for our partners. We’re continuing to monitor the situation closely and gather data from primary sources.

Regardless of where work is taking place with our partners, our vetted plans are in place and are ready to deploy as necessary. No matter how global conditions evolve, we’re confident that we can quickly respond to changing market dynamics, minimizing disruptions to our partners. Additionally, we are on track with our product road map. And we are committed to delivering the next generation of our hybrid-cloud data management services on schedule.

CF: Other thoughts you’d like to add?

GG: Companies today have access to game-changing technologies for harnessing data to solve important business problems. To do so effectively, they must address some key strategic challenges. [Those are] exploding data volumes, growing line-of-business requests, security concerns and new data protection regulations.

Companies can’t overcome all of these challenges themselves. They need the right technology and trusted business partners that solve their business needs and complement internal skill sets. Cloudera customers can say “yes” to any analytic workload from the edge to AI, knowing that they will have skills, vertical expertise, business solutions and certified integrations. … Expanding our partner program supports partners in their mission to innovate, drive customer success and adoption, and help companies worldwide to gain competitive advantage from their data.

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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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