Stratus Technologies overhauls, redesigns its partner program

In an effort to advance its partner channel sales, vendor Stratus Technologies introduced a single, globally consistent, structured partner program. The new program will feature deal registration for software sales and more.

Propelled by the growth of its "always on" hardware and software infrastructure solutions, Stratus Technologies Inc. is moving the business from more of a direct sales model to a partner channel sales model, and today announced the overhaul of its partner program.

Unlike the vendor's previous partner program, dubbed Stratus for Uptime, which Susan Bailey, channel chief at Stratus, described as "inconsistent" and "underdeveloped," the new global Stratus Partner Program is structured and rewards partners in the form of discounts based on training, certification and sales volume.

"It is my belief that the channel is our future and it is what will allow Stratus to scale," she said. Bailey, vice president of sales and services for the Americas, is also responsible for the company's global channel strategy. She joined Stratus in March 2012.

The partner program announcement follows the April acquisition of Stratus Technologies by Siris Capital Group for $342 million in April.

With the introduction of the Stratus Partner Program, the company is pulling multiple globally disparate programs into a single consistent one that maps to all partners by region and geography.

It isn't just about the fundamentals of the program; [it's also about] how we can help partners be successful selling services and support to their customers.
Susan Baileyvice president of Americas sales, Stratus Technologies

Today, Stratus has about 140 partners in North America, not including what Bailey called extended members of the partner ecosystem, which are about 300 systems integrators she described as "project-oriented" and that tend to work with Stratus value-added resellers and independent software vendors.

When Bailey joined the company, about 65% of Stratus revenue was direct. Today, about 95% of software revenue and 65% of hardware revenue goes through the channel.

With its roots in fault-tolerant hardware, in September 2012 Stratus expanded its product line to include software-based fault-tolerant products via its acquisition of Marathon Technologies and the company's Marathon everRun line.

Partners can sell Stratus everRun Enterprise to run on existing hardware platforms -- i.e., IBM, HP, Dell, Lenovo or white box -- to customers across market segments. According to Bailey, Stratus has seen tremendous growth in the sales of its software product.

The Stratus Partner Program has three tiers -- Registered, Silver and Gold -- with requirements and benefits increasing as partners move from Registered to Gold status.

The program requires personnel credentials, including sales accreditation, pre-sales accreditation, implementation certification and support (Level 1) certification. All partners are required to have sales and pre-sales accreditation, but only Silver and Gold partners are required to have multiple people certified in these accreditations. Additionally, Silver and Gold partners are required to get implementation certification, while Gold partners must also have two individuals certified for Support Certification.

Partners certified to provide Level 1 support to customers can hand off more involved support requests to Stratus.

Some Stratus partners elect to act as Service Resellers as either a Service Seller or Service Provider. Service Sellers buy and resell Stratus support services, while Service Providers sell their own Stratus-authorized services for application and platform, and can buy Stratus support service subscriptions.

According to the company, service is an integral part of Stratus' offerings and the vendor's attach rate for service is among the highest in the industry.

"We expect our Registered partners, who have fewer requirements, to be those affiliated with a distributor," Bailey said. There are no yearly revenue requirements for Registered partners.

In mid-April, Stratus announced a partnership with Arrow Electronics for the sale of Stratus software through Arrow partners, and the company has already approved a number of Arrow resellers. According to Bailey, Stratus may extend the partner opportunity via Arrow to hardware sales sometime in the future.

Annual minimum revenue requirements for selling software are $50,000 for Silver partners and $150,000 for Gold partners. Annual minimum revenue requirements for selling hardware are $100,000 for Silver partners and $250,000 for Gold partners. Stratus declined to disclose discount levels for partners.

Bailey said that while the partner program does have annual revenue requirements, they are not the mainstay of a good partner. "Our partner program is more about the quality of the partner and their capabilities," she said.

In September, the vendor will add deal registration for software sales (deal registration was previously available for hardware sales). The deal registration program applies to net-new customers' projects or to new projects with existing customers that have not made a purchase in 36 months. It does not apply to a refresh of an existing Stratus installation, the company said.

Partner enablement and sales and marketing are another area where the vendor is stepping up its game, Bailey said. "It isn't just about the fundamentals of the program; [it's also about] how we can help partners be successful selling services and support to their customers," she said.

Stratus will offer partners access to its partner portal, not-for-resale demo software licenses and discounted not-for-sale hardware, and discounts on certification training beyond the minimum requirements.

Sales and marketing support includes a listing in a partner locator, access to market development funds, lead generation and demand generation, a partner resource center, partner program branding, and partner advisory board/event participation.

Stratus also offers a business plan framework, which is basic for registered partners, but more sophisticated for Silver and Gold partners, and includes joint planning to help grow a partner's business with Stratus.

Stratus Technologies is aggressively moving to cloud with several announcements planned for before the end of the year. According to Bailey, upcoming announcements include cloud management and cloud orchestration services that will roll out this summer, with a corresponding cloud component of the partner program. The cloud services will be available for resell through the channel.

Expect to see Stratus build collaborative relationships with cloud service providers.

In the December timeframe, Stratus will introduce a fault-tolerant capability in the cloud. "This is selective availability in the cloud beyond the orchestration layer," Bailey said.

The channel chief noted that today 30% to 40% of Stratus partners are building a cloud practice.

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