AMD brings commercial, software partners into Fusion Partner Program

After launching its Fusion Partner Program in September focusing primarily on system builders and component sellers, AMD (NYSE: AMD) has announcing a further expansion of the program, bringing commercial partners and software developers under the formal partner program umbrella.

Before the launch of Fusion in September, AMD had a confusing jumble of programs for partners that sold different components that varied by region, and ATI, the Canadian graphics manufacturer acquired by AMD, also had its own partner programs. There was a need for a cross-platform approach said Gary Bixler, director of worldwide channel marketing at AMD, and that led to Fusion.

“We had some pretty successful and well-structured channel programs, but had some challenges in that the partners had different programs to belong to, depending on the products they sold,” said Bixler. “There was really no consistency and collaboration or synergy across the programs, so we decided to move towards a unified, consistent approach to our channel partners.”

The first phase of Fusion, launched in September, focused primarily on system builders and white box builders that primarily source components through distribution. Bixler said for the first time it gave partners a holistic view of AMD where, in the past, they may have only played in one area. Now they get incentives to support the entire line, and he said over 80 per cent of partners in this space indeed now are.

The next phase of Fusion involves commercial solutions partners. AMD defines these as commercial volume resellers such as direct to market resellers, as well as commercial solution providers, such as VARs and solution providers, which primarily procure through distribution. These are partners that aren’t buying AMD components, but are selling solutions built around OEM platforms with AMD technology inside, such as HP servers or Toshiba notebooks, or a database system from Oracle.

Bixler said AMD recognizes that they won’t be these partners’ primary partner relationship. But he said, speaking with these partners, AMD had recognized a desire in the partner community for greater information and support on the AMD technology they’re selling then they’re currently receiving from their OEM vendor partners.

“It’s not about chips anymore, it’s about platforms. Sure there are chips inside the platform but at the heart, the real value we’re delivering is at the platform level,” said Bixler. “The benefits we deliver in the program are really about telling those stories in delivering that support at the platform level.”

Currently missing from the equation is OEMs that sell direct to end-users. Bixler said AMD considers sales channels such as the Dell field sales force or Oracle’s direct sales force to be channels, albeit ones controlled by the vendors, and AMD does plan to support them through Fusion in the future.

The other new category launching this week is the software partner track. This tracks targets software developers that don’t sell AMD directly, but are developing software that Bixler said is critical to delivering the full capabilities of the AMD platform. Examples would be developer of gaming software, video editing technology and emerging new media technologies, as well as the operating system vendors, such as Microsoft.

“We’ve had those relationships before, but what was missing was a defined partner program with defined, specified benefits they know they’ll get over time,” said Bixler. “It was more a relationship-based model, so this will be a big step forward in our relationship with those partners.”

Like most partner programs, Fusion has three tiers across seven tracks geared to specific business models, with Commercial Solutions, Volume Reseller and Software as the new tracks. The top tier, Elite, is by invite-only and is small, with fewer than 100 partners worldwide across all tracks. Most top-quality partner will fall into Premier, and smaller partners into Select.

Bixler said AMD will employ a scoring system to determine into which tier partners will fall. Volume of business will be one measurement, but so will playing across the AMD portfolio, consistency and longevity or relationship, and participation in AMD marketing campaigns and strategic initiatives.

Also, AMD will launch a new partner portal in the coming weeks to support Fusion, which will give each partner that logs-in information specific to their program track and business model

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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