Hitachi Data Systems Corp. today made changes to the Hitachi TrueNorth Partner Program in five areas -- specialization, training scholarships, account segmentation and incentives -- which the company said are aimed at helping partners move toward solution selling and away from product selling.
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While the Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) partner program has been around for more than a decade and includes almost 2,000 reseller and distribution partners worldwide, the company hasn't been proactive in communicating the richness of what it offers, said Tonia Gonsalves, vice president of global partner enablement in HDS' global partner and alliances organization.
"This is a kick-off point for us to be more proactive and communicative with our partners and to let them know what the TrueNorth Partner Program has to offer and the new enhancements for 2013," she said.
The HDS partner program changes are in effect now, unless otherwise specified, and include:
HDS said it is clarifying its rules of engagement between its direct sales team and TrueNorth Partners as it moves away from being a product sales company and moves towards being a solution sales company. In an emailed statement, the company said: "We are now providing more clarity on the sales engagements that can be led by Hitachi TrueNorth Partners outside of the HDS named account list. This eliminates any ambiguity that may have existed previously."
Today, the only accounts off-limits to TrueNorth partners are very large and strategic accounts, which has always been the case, according to Ed Parolisi, vice president of infrastructure solutions in the global partner and alliances organization at HDS. HDS invites partners in as needed on those accounts, he said. "We need enabled channel partners to help us in some of these accounts for things like fulfillment, local expertise around a particular vertical, or to augment our skills," Parolisi said.
The account segmentation will increase the number of sales and service accounts for TrueNorth partners, according to Parolisi, who added that a little more than 50% of HDS business goes through its partners.
John Flores, vice president of marketing and business development at Sigma Technology Solutions Inc., and a Platinum HDS TrueNorth partner based in San Antonio, Texas, is bullish that his company’s HDS practice will gain more business as HDS scales its enterprise business. Sigma has built an HDS practice around consulting, implementation and support services.
“Hitachi understands the relevance of its TrueNorth partners as it looks for new opportunities in technology areas such as mobile and big data,” he said, adding that his company has a good history working with HDS’ direct sales force.
HDS has put together a new partner reward structure that includes partner rebates for all HDS solutions and offerings. In addition, partners with a specialization in Hitachi Unified Compute Platform (UCP) and skills around key applications and hypervisors can earn competency-based rebates.
"Our rebate program has been in place for a number of years and is consistent and stackable. This new competency-based incentive is designed to give a higher level of compensation to our most skilled partners in solution selling," Parolisi said.
HDS has developed a collaboration tool for specialty partners based on Jive software for real-time access to materials and HDS experts.
The collaboration tool is accessible via the company's PartnerXchange portal. Partners with certifications in specialty areas are granted 24/7 access to a unique area that houses the same tools, best practices, and associated manuals and implementation materials available to HDS employees.
HDS is extending its scholarship program, started a few years ago, to ensure financing doesn't thwart a partner's ability to get the latest product solution and implementation training, including support for certification testing.
Also, later this year, the company will offer what it calls "Just for You" training, which will allow partners to choose their training content rather than work from a standard portfolio. Partners will be able to apply for an educational scholarship to cover the cost of Just for You training.
Procurement through Avnet
Avnet Technology Solutions will offer Hitachi's UCP Select for VMware vSphere with Cisco Unified Computing System, a preconfigured, integrated solution featuring the Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform. Today, HDS partners can procure the converged solution from Avnet. HDS is open to developing additional relationships with integration partners in the future, according to Parolisi.