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In many senses, channel partner programs are only as strong as their weakest links. With that tenet in mind, BlueCoat, a major provider of Web security and WAN optimization products, has announced an overhaul of its channel program that will reduce the number of partners involved, while also bringing an array of new services and investments to those that remain.
September 17, 2012
In many senses, channel partner programs are only as strong as their weakest links. With that tenet in mind, BlueCoat, a major provider of Web security and WAN optimization products, has announced an overhaul of its channel program that will reduce the number of partners involved, while also bringing an array of new services and investments to those that remain. Read on for details.
BlueCoat’s Channel Advantage Program, which is split into three tiers, is structured around two main partner characteristics: overall revenue generation and compliance with the expectations of the channel program. The program offers participating VARs, system integrators and distributors a variety of services relating to support, sales, marketing and more.
In the interest of shoring up its partner program and offering better services to the most active participants, BlueCoat is trimming 27 percent of its 2,400 current partners across the world. The cuts will focus on partners who have not met the revenue and compliance requirements for membership in the partner network.
But BlueCoat’s plans involve more than simply thinning ranks. It also will be investing significantly to bolster the value of the partner program for the participants who remain. These new initiatives center around six main areas, according to Eric Cross, BlueCoat’s VP of Field Operations for the Americas:
Stronger efforts going forward to ensure all partners meet certification requirements.
New incentives for channel partners, allowing them greater margins to receive new support cells.
“Incumbency policy enforcement,” which means deeper investment by BlueCoat in helping partners to protect service renewal opportunities against competitors.
Similarly, entitlement enforcement initiatives will help partners renew their customer base.
More frequent audits of partners to ensure compliance with requirements for the partner program.
Greater attention to the alignment of service margins with industry standards.
At the same time, BlueCoat will be making other, broader enhancements to its offerings and operations, Cross said. These include, among other efforts, a stronger investment in marketing for both BlueCoat and its partners, and upgrades to customer support services.
BlueCoat’s partner channel, and by extension the security ecosystem more generally, are thus set to change in significant ways. But as Cross was also keen to emphasize, the company will remain “100 percent channel-focused” even as it adopts a less-is-more strategy for revamping its channel program.
Christopher Tozzi started covering the channel for The VAR Guy on a freelance basis in 2008, with an emphasis on open source, Linux, virtualization, SDN, containers, data storage and related topics. He also teaches history at a major university in Washington, D.C. He occasionally combines these interests by writing about the history of software. His book on this topic, “For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution,” is forthcoming with MIT Press.
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