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EMC overhauling partner program for cloud computing wave

The storage vendor is working on an overhaul of its Velocity partner program

IT infrastructure vendor EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) is preparing an overhaul of its Velocity partner program to enable its channel partners to bring to market its vision of an architecture of dynamic, secure and scalable public and private cloud computing.

In an interview with CDN at the vendor’s EMC Forum event in Toronto, Jeremy Burton, executive vice-president and chief marketing officer with EMC, confirmed the Velocity partner program is currently getting a cloud-computing makeover.

“In the next few months, you’ll see us do a pretty major overhaul of our Velocity partner program, with the goal of a globally consistent model to accommodate specialities,” said Burton. “If a partner is a specialist in mid-tier storage today, within Velocity it should be straight-forward for them to develop competency in high-end storage, or to build from back-up today into security, all within the same structure.”

That’s not easy to do today, said Burton, because as EMC has acquired companies over the years it inherited several partner programs with many different rules. It wants to standardize with one global program to make it easier for partner to go deeper with EMC, and deeper with their existing customer base.

EMC is also expanding its channel resources in Canada. Michael Sharun, managing director of EMC Canada, said while previously Canadian partners shared technical consultants with the direct sales team, now EMC has technical consultant dedicated to working with the channel exclusively.

“They work directly with the channel community to provide first-line support,” said Sharun. “We’ve also expanded the number of channel managers across Canada, and now have managers for every district – West, Central and East. We can serve our channel partners better from that perspective, more touch, and more money from EMC to support partners to enable our solutions.”

The new program and new resources are in support of what is calling the next, and biggest, wave of computing: cloud computing and the private cloud. This next wave is coming now, said Burton, because CIOs are driving an IT infrastructure rethink with today’s models seeing too much budget going to maintenance leaving little for innovation.

EMC sees several cloud models emerging in the market. Companies such as Google see pervasive public clouds, while companies such as Oracle want to deliver the entire stack exclusively. EMC’s vision seeks to preserve the best of today’s data centres – they’re controlled, they’re trusted, and they’re secure – with a model that sees private clouds managed by the IT department, which dynamically leverage public cloud services as needed.

“We’re heading toward a system where you can move your internal data centre from where it is today to a private cloud environment where you can tap into service providers that run same infrastructure on the public cloud, and because you’re on the same infrastructure you can federate workloads,” said Burton. “No one will move everything to cloud, but we want a model where can move some work back and forth based on need or workload, and tap into public clouds for applications depending on your need.”

At the end of a road is an IT-as-a-service model that sees IT services scaling up and down to meet business demand, at a level of service necessary to the task, and internal chargeback from IT to line of business departments, changing the relationship between business and IT.

To bring these models to reality, Burton said EMC needs to help partners be able to both talk the talk and walk the walk.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for partners and there’s a thirst within IT for advice. There probably isn’t a senior IT executive today that doesn’t have someone waving a Google, an Amazon, or some cloud service at them asking ‘why can I get in minutes from them what takes forever from you?’” said Burton. “If you’ve got a response that’s good, and you need to formulate it now. It’s a great opportunity for a partner to be a trusted advisor. If you can advise the customer on what their cloud strategy is, you’re at the table on day one. And when the data centre inevitably does get re-architected, you’ve got a bigger role to play.”

The second part is walking the walk, and being able to deliver on the talk. EMC wants to help partners be able to solve more problems by developing more competencies and going deeper in EMC’s product line.

While Canada often legs behind other geographies in technology, Sharun said cloud computing is an exception because CIOs are actively involved in the discussion and are driving adoption. Consequently, cloud adoption in Canada is as high as in the U.S. and elsewhere. He added the private/public cloud model isn’t just for large enterprise, but scaled down well into the mid-market.

And in Canada, EMC is much more reliant on partners for go-to-market than in other regions, said Sharun.

“By and large I’m very happy with the partner reach we have today. We understand what disciplines they’re comfortable and competent with, and we can leverage the skillsets they have instead of trying to boil the ocean,” said Sharun.

While not all partners can specialize in all areas, Sharun said EMC’s model is to have its partners lead with the areas they’re most comfortable with, use EMC’s technical consultants to fill in the gaps and go deeper with customers and in the process develop the additional skills and specialities in-house over time.

Follow Jeff Jedras on Twitter: @JeffJedrasCDN.