Bringing VARs and Service Providers Together in the Cloud

With each passing day it’s getting harder to distinguish exactly who does what in the channel. Traditional value-added resellers (VARs) are increasingly adding cloud services to their portfolios, some of which they build and some of which they resell.

That creates a challenge for vendors when it comes to building and maintaining various channel programs. In fact, we’re starting to increasingly see a convergence of the channel programs designed for VARs and service providers.

EMC took a step in that direction with forthcoming updates to its Velocity service provider program that makes it easier for traditional VARs to not only participate in the program, but also encourages VARs to resell cloud services created by other EMC partners.

According to Michelle de Hertogh, EMC senior director for global alliances and service providers marketing, EMC hopes to increase the number of partners participating in its Velocity service provider program from 60 to 180 in 2013. There are three different levels to the program, each of which receives different levels of marketing support from EMC.

For as long as anyone in the channel can remember most vendors had separate programs for service providers and resellers. In many cases, the differences in those programs led to a lot of conflict across the channel. As cloud computing, however, continues to become a mainstream phenomenon, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to identify solution providers as being a reseller, service provider, or for that matter, any other traditional channel partner designation.

In the coming year solution providers should expect to see vendors of all sizes struggle to come to terms with this new reality. Solution providers will have to take a close look at the various channel programs offered by vendors and, in many cases, not be surprised when they wake up one day to discover that the vendor has finally determined that many of the metrics they are using to identify different classes of solution providers are no longer applicable.

Obviously, some vendors rather not directly address the tough issues associated with revamping their channel programs and will instead choose to muddle through. But for the brave few vendors that seize the moment the advent of cloud computing presents a unique opportunity to address some long-standing conflicts between resellers and service providers that have never really been in the best interests of anyone concerned, allowing for the creation of new, well-defined channel partner programs that will be mutually advantageous to both resellers and service providers.

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