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EMC World 2015: Vendor aims to sell channel on Federation

EMC executives speaking at the EMC World 2015 conference emphasized a tighter alignment between its Federation strategy and its partners.

LAS VEGAS -- At EMC World 2015 and Global Partner Summit 2015, the power of the Federation was not only the core topic for Day 2, but also the central theme of the Partner Summit keynote session.

EMC is on a mission to make the Federation a reality for partners. Federation members include EMC II, VCE, VMware, Pivotal and RSA. In the opening keynote of the summit, Gregg Ambulos, EMC's senior vice president of global channel sales, talked about a tighter alignment between the Federation and partners. He also stated that EMC wanted to create a frictionless experience for partners who sell federated product sets and is working on making that happen within the partner program. This strategy goes hand in hand with EMC's sales culture evolution from transactional to solutions, as well as its moves to foster a closer relationship with channel partners and get disparate partner types to work together.

On a broader level, keynote speakers addressed "unleashing the power of the Federation" or leveraging the best technologies of the Federation to bring solutions to the market. EMC recently did just that with the introduction of three Federation offerings: Federation Enterprise Hybrid Cloud, Federation Business Data Lake and Federation Security Analytics.

However, the companies in the Federation, strategically aligned businesses, are free to innovate jointly or individually. While that approach may be great for the Federation, how complicated will it be for EMC partners to do business with the Federation?

"From a practical standpoint this will not happen overnight," said Kevin Rhone, senior consultant and practice lead with the Channel Acceleration practice at Enterprise Strategy Group, who added that it will require behavior changes on the part of both EMC's field teams and partners.

He pointed to two key things that need to be set in motion for these changes to happen: a clear set of rules of engagement in the field and changes to the Business Partner Program that reward business outcome sales motions by partners.

In a recent Q&A with SearchITChannel, Ambulos targeted the July timeframe for the completion of a deal registration program for the Federation as well as rules of engagement.

Despite the fact that it's still early in the game regarding partner and Federation alignment, EMC partners are definitely seeing the value in it, said Cyndi Privett, vice president of research and cofounder of Viewpoint Research.  "EMC is also becoming increasingly articulate about how partners can leverage the portfolio of the Federation and increase profits by doing so," she added.

Cheryl McKenzie-Cross, senior account executive with PureLogic IT Solutions Inc., which is located in Kanata, Ontario, agrees. "I can see the potential where if I have an opportunity that was national across the government that I could expect that EMC would have partnerships in those other provinces, let's say, that they could fulfill on our behalf and, thus, believing in physically and actively working in that Federation model," she said.

"That's very impressive and serves the little guys like us," she added.

A big emphasis at Partner Summit is encouraging various partner types to work together as well as with EMC to bring IT solutions to customers. "When you're trying to draw out $20 million in annual revenue, what better way to do it than to team up and get the help of other partners? So the Federation is a big deal. We have already seen the opportunity," she said.

PureLogic IT Solutions already had been having internal discussions about needing to work more closely with the manufacturers, who to partner with and how to make bigger projects happen.

"We come into knowing about a lot of capital projects worth as much as $15 million-plus, but we can't capture that by ourselves," McKenzie-Cross said. "We'd have to build a little consortium. It's not easy to do that, but we have the contacts and the relationships, so if we can work through an EMC federated partner to make that happen, that's pretty substantial," she stated.

PureLogic IT Solutions is a 7-year-old, 15-person solutions provider that had a heavy focus on Canada's Department of National Defense before the provider merged last July with another partner in western Canada. More recently, the company branched out into other industries, such as oil and gas, small and medium-sized businesses, healthcare, education and banking. The PureLogic IT Solutions merger resulted not only in expanded market opportunities and managed services offerings, but in new vendor partner relationships, including one with EMC.

Attending the EMC World 2015 and Global Partner Summit, McKenzie-Cross found the vendor to be innovative and progressive-thinking. She also said that she heard a lot of intelligence and thinking behind what was said in the Partner Summit general session, as well as in many sessions she and a systems engineer coworker attended.

EMC hasn't always been McKenzie-Cross' go-to vendor, at least not until a year ago when she became the EMC point person at her company. In previous reseller sales positions, she was certified with EMC but didn't always choose them first. "I liked HP more because they were easier to work with, had good solutions and had good people," she said. "But I find now the approach EMC is taking is incredibly different than in the past."

Privett said that the next step for EMC is to enable partners to take data analytics to their customers in a meaningful way -- "especially in the midmarket where many customers are drowning in data but are struggling to use it to transform their businesses," she said.

Vendors who succeed in doing that -- providing partners the right combination of training, tool sets, use cases and methodologies -- will have a tremendous advantage in the market, said Privett.

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