Three local NetApp resellers are working to achieve gold level certification, as the vendor looks to a group of key specialists to expand its local presence.
NetApp’s ANZ director of channels Scott Morris says the upskilling is part of its strategy of reaching beyond the limited partnerships it previously had with Infinity Solutions (now Fujitsu), and Revera, that began with the appointment of Value Added Distributors in late 2007.
“We saw there was a bigger market out there that we were not reaching. Those three partners were the first to bring incremental opportunity to the table and [they] have seen there is a chance for them to get behind a strategic brand within the local market, [in] which [NetApp is not] over represented.”
SAS IT, Lexel Systems and OSS are currently authorised partners, but have registered to work on gold level certification. They work with NetApp through VAD, now a division of Ingram Micro.
“They are seeing the value to kick it up another level,” says Morris. “It’s more about [whether we] have the right partners representing the brand and [if] we are continuing to grow at a rate that is delivering value back to the organisation. If I can put a large amount of resources behind a small number of partners, then we can keep the relationships intimate and strong.”
NetApp values strict channel procedures around certification and reward, says Morris, going as far as to say his company’s approach is “maniacal”.
“The [programmes are] quite tight in terms of registration and how we go about rewarding the partners. This is testimony to a plan that sees everyone come in at the base level and once they’ve skilled up, [they] can attain the next level.”
He claims there are too many vendors that have partner programme tiers, but don’t adhere to them.
“I can say we use that tiering to reward the partners and give them access to better tools and capabilities.”
SAS IT CEO Phil Martin says the company decided to pursue gold level certification because its NetApp business was growing.
“IBM is a reseller of NetApp’s technology so that’s how we got introduced to them. Subsequently, when VAD took over as a distributor for the product in New Zealand we signed up to resell.”
Martin says the company has hired a number of people who are NetApp certified and who focus on storage, some of whom are former Infinity/Fujitsu staff, he says. Fujitsu remains a platinum NetApp partner.
SAS IT has some certifications to achieve before it can move up to gold, says Martin. “We’ll have certifications in July and then it’s a matter of working through where we go from there.”
Martin says becoming a gold partner is recognition it has put the groundwork in.
“The bit of paper that says you’re a gold partner is not just based on the fact that you’ve signed up a large amount of revenue. It’s the fact that you’ve made a commitment to an outcome that also involves quite a significant investment.”
Lexel Systems’ managing director Noel Simpson says moving to gold certification is part of offering more NetApp services to its customers.
“We’ve got a growing services business and some of those clients run different storage technology. You’ve got to have the right equipment and certification to fit the customer’s needs in terms of storage and be able to support it.”
Simpson says the company already has a good relationship with key NetApp staff locally.
OSS sales and marketing manager Gavin Stone wouldn’t comment on the company’s move to gold, as he says OSS won’t be certified until August.
VAD/Ingram Micro storage business manager Stuart Alexander says being part of the bigger Ingram Micro organisation, provides advantages and opportunities to cross sell products.
“There are still customers out there that want to attach true storage brands to other blades that aren’t IBM. From a NetApp perspective, it is a complementary arrangement in terms of distribution via Ingram Micro.”
Alexander says NetApp has selected a smaller numbers of specialised partners to deliver its business.
“They are trained, certified and focused [on NetApp]. If they are prepared to commit, then NetApp is prepared to put its proposition strongly behind those organisations.
“From the partner side there are the likes of Lexel, SAS IT and OSS who are more technically savvy organisations that really want to put a foot forward.”