2 min read

Novell reforms partner program with eye to simplicity, value

Vendor goes from 13 deal registration programs down to just one

Intelligent workload management software vendor Novell Inc. (NASDAQ: NOVL) has revamped its PartnerNet partner program to reduce complexity, put the focus on value instead of volume and encourage partners to specialize in key technology areas.

The first major PartnerNet changes occurred in fiscal 2009 said Dan Dufault, global director of partner marketing for Novell. Sweeping changes were made to how medallion level requirements are set and the awards associated with them, and how partners engage with Novell.

“We moved from a traditional partner program focused solely on revenue contribution to more of a value-based approach, as others in the industry are doing,” said Dufault.

The changes mainly focused on specialization, with three solution-focuses: end-user consulting, data centre and identity/security management. Novell is encouraging partners to specialize in those areas, with rewards designed to drive partner investment in specialization based on revenue, specialization focus and customer satisfaction.

The program changes for 2011 are less sweeping, but Dufault said they’re enhancements in response to partner feedback, particularly around the ease of doing business with Novell and how quickly partners can get ramped-up and leverage the program.

“The common thread we hear is simplicity. Don’t make it too complex,” said Dufault. “Reward us for what we do well, for the value we bring to the customer as a unique entity, and don’t treat us generically. Make it easy and profitable.”

Accordingly, rather that reward partners for revenue they generate by specialty or focus area, Novell will reward for total revenue contribution overall. While they’ll still reward competency in specialization, Dufault said from a revenue perspective the reward will be in aggregate. This way, partners won’t feel they have to pick one specialty to the exclusion of others to take full advantage of the program.

Novell has also simplified deal registration for its partners, going from 13 different programs down to one.

“When a partner had a deal to register, they’ve have to go into the PartnerNet portal and self-select one of 13 programs to register the deal in,” said Dufault. “That introduces complexity both on their side and our side.”

The reporting schedule for partners has also gone from monthly to quarterly, to reduce the burden on partners and the vendor. And because Dufault said they wanted to recognize the natural differences between partner revenue cycles and the vendor’s, a 12-month rolling reporting period will be used with a quarterly delay for shifts in medallion-level.

“There will be no impact on medallion level until the third consecutive quarterly change to that level,” said Dufault. “We won’t have a see-saw in medallion levels; we’re looking for consistency of performance.”

Attachmate Corp. announced a US$2.2 billion acquisition of Novell in November, and the deal has yet to close. Dufault said partners are telling him they’d like to see the deal closed and behind the company, but in the interim partner performance remains strong and enthusiasm around the program changes high.

A big opportunity Novell sees for partners is around deploying the vendors WorkloadIQ strategy in securing and managing workloads in the cloud and in hybrid data cenre environments.

“We and our partners are finding most IT shops aren’t going all or nothing into the cloud from a traditional IT infrastructure. For 99 per cent it’s a hybrid approach, at least in the interim if not permanently,” said Dufault. “Being able to manage workloads in a secure way across infrastructures is clearly where the opportunity lies.”

Follow Jeff Jedras on Twitter: @JeffJedrasCDN.