Q&A with NetApp’s Global Channel Chief About the Evolution of The NetApp Partner Program

NetApp today announced the evolution of The NetApp Partner Program to support changing business models from partners of many types, from VARs and SIs to service and hosting providers. Going forward, partners will have one partner program from NetApp, with the flexibility and value that offer partners the benefits they need, no matter how they operate – now or in the future.


We sat down with Peter Howard, NetApp’s new global channel chief, to discuss the impact of this announcement for partners. Here are some of the highlights of the conversation.


What is NetApp announcing today and why?

First of all, the “why,” since that will explain the “what.” In the world of IT selling today, partners are faced with solving new and complex customer IT challenges. They need to evolve their business models to ensure continued business strength for the future. As a result of these changes in technology delivery models and customer needs, partners are reinventing themselves, sometimes in ways that put them in conflict with the vendors they work with — or at the very least, the programs they are part of.


NetApp has simply evolved our program for the benefit of our partners and the business opportunities they see for themselves and our mutual customers. Essentially, with our announcement today, we are encouraging our partners of many types to add new business capabilities and pursue new markets to grow their business.  We want to enable our partners to go to market in the way they want to, and to be able to choose the best blend of products and services to address their customers’ changing business needs.


What does this mean for the NetApp Partner Program? Is this a new program or the same program? Do partners have to join a new program?

With this evolution, NetApp continues our proven legacy of innovation over the years and our reputation for delivering a consistent, predictable, and profitable partner program. Our partners are the business for NetApp. We are simply making it even easier for them to experiment and adopt new ways of working with their customers – for example, through system integration, additional services, offering managed services, or providing “as a service” offerings. This is not a new program, but the evolution of the same program we have had for years. Partners don’t need to join a new program.


Partner opportunity is important, but what specifically makes this unique for partners? And how does it change what NetApp was already doing to help partners focus on their business?

It comes down to some very specific program elements that we feel differentiate us from our competitors and demonstrate continued innovation in our partner programs:

  • One program that supports how partners want to evolve their business
  • One program, one contract for resellers, hosting partners, integrators, and managed service partners
  • Increased CDM investment and the provision of leads to partners
  • Overall increased ease of doing business with NetApp, from processes to people management and enablement


Some partners are finding the world of IT selling more competitive, and some are even starting to compete with the vendors they have worked with for years. How does the announcement today position NetApp with its partners?

NetApp remains committed to our partners’ success; is investing to grow our partners’ businesses; and does not compete for service. Specifically, we:

  • Continue to require partners to adhere to Rules of Engagement and Opportunity Registration, as we have for years
  • Continue to push services to partners
  • Have a Global Partner Directory that recognizes competency, investments, and certifications of partners of all types
  • Believe that partners can go to market with NetApp in a more flexible way than other vendors, meaning that they can build a more profitable business with NetApp


Tell us something unique about the program that you are proud of.

There are many unique aspects to the program, but I am particularly excited about what it does for our partners and customers. The evolution of the program will help partners get total recognition for the full value they bring to customers. Now more than ever, this recognition is important in this new era of IT selling.


Overall, I am very proud of our legacy of program innovation over the years. The FlexPod® solution and our Cloud Service Provider Program are two great examples of NetApp’s continued partner leadership. In fact, the Cloud Service Provider Program was the first of its kind to align VARs and SPs, showing true commitment to our partners’ business needs.