Novell wants the channel to be more specialized in the areas of Linux, security and identity management, system resource management and workgroups.
Now let’s break those four areas down: Linux is still a wait-and-see type of proposition. Sure there are companies making money selling Linux but the vast majority of customers in my opinion are still Windows-based and would like to stay that way, especially with Vista coming out. So what does that mean? It means if you want to specialize in Linux you will be a small fish in a small pond.
Up next is security and identity management. No question this is a big market where solution providers can make some big money.
Third is system and resource management. Novell has to do a better job of clearly defining these areas. System and resource management can mean anything. This area focuses on customers who have a hodge-podge type of network and need help. It is more of a great opportunity than a burgeoning market. Sort of like those real estate speculators who snoop for depressed properties.
Lastly, workgroup is really bread-and-butter for a solution provider.
So behind all the great program benefits and extra margin, what Novell would like you to do is stop being a generalist and focus on Novell products. This will help Novell make more money, but the question is will it make you more money?
Sure there are some added incentives, but I posed this question to James Simzer, the director of partner sales for Novell Canada: “Is PartnerNet 2007 a fair program for all?”
Now, I like Simzer and I think he has done a great job managing the channel for Novell for a long time, but his answer was less than satisfying.
The concept of specialization is a great one. Don’t get me wrong. However, solution providers who are going to risk a lot of time, effort, money, whatever to become specialized for any of these four areas deserve more than what they are getting.
And I am not talking about the top 20 solution providers in Canada who do have the resources to go after these markets. I am speaking of small boutique solution providers who have bet their business on open source or identity management and are the expertise in the field. These firms will never do the amount of volume sales such as the top 20 solution providers can but are still important to any vendor pushing specialization with their own products.
And I do not think Novell, at least with this new program, is quite there yet.
Still, overall PartnerNet 2007 is a good effort from the company.