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RSA still improving channel communication

RSA Security is building a level of cooperation with channel it had always lacked -- it's helping VARs build revenue, rather than fulfill orders.

Read part one of this story on RSA's initial channel efforts.

In addition to integrating the efforts of its internal sales force with those of the channel, RSA has worked to extend its program in new directions.

For example, new marketing programs disperse marketing funds, which are then managed by the regional sales group, by geographic region, according to Michael Ross, EMC area vice president of North America channels.

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The company also has been working to open lines of communication with the channel. Its annual partner conference, for example, is open to 100 to 150 of the company's top channel partners. "The partner conference helps get their executive vision across," according to Susan Crabtree, president and CEO at Mission Critical Systems, a security VAR in Pompano Beach, Fla.

The conference provides presentations, and a chance to mingle with other partners. "We find it interesting to talk to other channel partners that are like us but working in other geographies," according to Richard Tarabour, director of product development at Alliant Technologies, LLC, a 150-person integrator in Morristown, N.J. Tarabour said his company sent seven people to the show, which was held in early February. "We are reluctant to talk with people in our area, but it is much easier to talk about it at these events."

Meanwhile, the company has also begun a partner advisory council populated by 10 to 15 of its partners, who are invited to discuss key issues with top management.

Deal registration, which allows channel partners to register potential opportunities as soon as they are identified, remains the favorite perk of most channel partners.

"Our CFO is most vehement about not losing any deal registration opportunities," Tarabour said. "It makes complete and total sense -- his highest priority is the additional points. Plus, deal registration gets the two teams working on joint account strategies."

In the first year or so of the program, partners registered 3,500 deals.

RSA distinguishes itself with its deal registration in that the company pays the solution provider that registers the deal, no matter who finally closes it. "If we find an opportunity and register it, then work with the customer, we get the 10% back-end money even if the customer decides to go with another bid," according to Reza Zarafshar, president and CEO at Advanced Computer Concepts in McLean, Va. "RSA is the only vendor that pays whether you close or not."

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Although RSA traditionally dealt with many partners direct, the company has also begun to encourage its partners to buy through distributors.

"The majority of our partners purchased through RSA but we wanted them to buy through distribution where they could get products in two to three days versus 10 days," said Ross.

To encourage the switch, the company moved its product rebates from the back end of the sales cycle to the front end so that the 5% rebates are now paid through the distributors, Ross said.

These rebates are tied to technical certification so that solution partners receive rebates for any product for which they've achieved technical certification.

How RSA can further improve its channel program

As satisfied as many solution providers are with RSA's programs, most say that they would like more -- more information and higher levels of communication. "I'd like to have better visibility into roadmap of the partnership program and know where it is going," said Tarabour. "It would help me to optimize my planning horizon."

Some resellers say that, particularly with the influx of new partners, it can be difficult to get personalized attention.

"RSA could improve the relationship with the channel, although I'm not saying it is bad, if they reached out to their channel partners more," said Zarafshar. "RSA tends to have a few select partners that they deal with. I would like to get more visibility with them."

And, of course, more money is always appreciated. To that end, RSA is planning to further enhance its profitability programs in the last 90 days, Ross said.

"The ultimate goal of the program is to give partners the opportunity to find new sales, customers and licenses and to be motivated to do that," said Ross, adding that the details of the new programs have not been released. "The three components to profitability are sales dollars to the sales reps, rewards for management and bottom line profitability."

Read part one of this story on RSA's initial channel efforts.

Company Name:

RSA, the Security Division of EMC


Bedford , Mass.


1986; Formed as the Security Division of EMC in September 2006

Partner URL:



Technologies developed:

secure enterprise data; compliance and security information management; secure consumer identities and assets; secure remote access; Web access management; secure enterprise access

Tiered program name:

RSA SecurWorld Rewards Program


Registered, Solution and Access

Number of partners:


Percent sold through channel:

More than 70%

Number of distributors:

Three major North American distributors

Senior channel exec's name:

Michael Ross


area vice president of North American channels

Number of years at company:



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