Open Source Partner Channels: Critical But Different
Now that we’ve launched The Open Source 50, I’ll help readers to explore, question, and understand how open source is changing the world of partner programs and channels as we know it today — and most importantly how we all adapt and continue to grow. What made a good partner program before may not make sense in the open source world and the drivers or reasons why companies partner may now be very different. Here’s why.
Open Source, SaaS, Cloud Computing and Managed Services (see our sister site, MSPmentor) are all game changing trends that are turning the traditional partner model on end. Everyone is driven by self interest so it is critical to understand first what the win-win value proposition is when building a partner channel so that the relationship is good for everyone.
The one thing I’ve learned from my years working with partners and channels is that whatever that “value” is, it needs to translate into revenue quickly. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have all the answers – but I do have a lot of questions that any company who is either building solutions (the ISV) or taking those solutions to market (SI’s and VAR) should consider.
Questions for Software Developers
For software developers and independent software vendors (ISVs), how do you get a partner excited about your solution if there is little to no opportunity to make money on licenses?
- Is it the opportunity to deliver new services or break into new accounts/opportunities?
- Is it providing solid backing and technical support that ensures the partner can deliver to large companies and address problems quickly when they occur?
- How are you helping partners build competency?
- What do you want from partners, what are you willing to invest, and for how long (do you have the patience)?
- Are you looking to expand your sales coverage and/or service delivery capability without adding people?
- Are you looking for partners to contribute back and help define new functionality based on their hands-on experience?
Systems Integrators and VARs
For system integrators and VAR partners, how do you work with the hundreds of companies out there today and ensure that you can actually deliver the solutions to customers? Also, what is important to you when partnering with a software provider and what value do you hope to get out of the relationship?
- New leads that allow you to engage with existing customers or break into new ones?
- Having the backing of the company behind the solution so that you know you can deliver what you sell?
- A way for you to create differentiation for yourselves or expand your business with new service and training offerings for your clients?
And what are you willing to invest and how seriously are you committed to developing the necessary sales and technical competency and implementing an aggressive go to market strategy so that when an ISV is looking for help on an opportunity, they come to you.I admit that asking a bunch of questions, while important, kind of leaves you hanging because we all want to know the answers.
In my forthcoming blogs I will focus on trying to answer these questions, analyzing partner programs that exist today and offering up advice about how to make them better. Let me know what other questions and challenges you see and we can work together this year to figure this out.
Contributing blogger Scott Dahlgren is an independent consultant helping small and mid-size technology companies extract greater value from their partner and channel relationships. And he also runs marathons through the woods of Connecticut. The VAR Guy is updated multiple times daily. Don’t miss a single post. Subscribe to his newsletter, RSS feed, Twitter feed and Resource Center.