LAS VEGAS – The Citrix Cloud Partner Program, which was first mentioned back in January at the company’s Citrix Summit partner event, is now likely to roll out with the beginning of Citrix’s new fiscal year in January. Citrix has been spending a good deal of time consulting with partners about what they need in such a program, and indicated that what emerges in the new year could be unique compared to any other Cloud Partner program that is presently available in the market.
“We have been closely working on the Cloud Partner Program with partners, drawing on their input,” said Kimberly Martin, Citrix’s VP, Worldwide Partner Strategy and Sales. “With our Project Lighthouse engagement model, we have been starting with a clean sheet. We aren’t a SaaS company and we aren’t an infrastructure company, so we can’t just do what these kinds of companies are already doing.”
Martin emphasized that the challenges in designing this kind of program are that it’s much less about the technology and more around services and how they do enablement for partners around the whole process of the transition to the cloud.
“We call it our Cloud Program but it’s really about this TRANSITION to the cloud,” Martin said. “It’s all about helping partners to get their customers to move workloads to the cloud, rather than a program based on having a steady state of everything in the cloud.”
Martin indicated that while the Citrix program won’t be like anything else that different types of vendors have done to support this process, they are studying the other models and trying to figure out what will work best for Citrix and its partners.
“Partners typically don’t resell cloud, because in SaaS, there usually isn’t enough margin in reselling for the vendor,” Martin said. “But there are a lot of different model options, such as referral or syndication, and possibly hybrid options or entirely new options – things that haven’t been done before.”
Martin said that making sure the program has predictability and strong opportunities for partners to make money is critical, during the process of transition to the cloud where everyone realizes that existing margins simply can’t be sustained.
“Some partners are letting us look at their books with a forensic accountant to see how they are making money today, and look at how they will transition to the cloud, and the impact the change in margins will have on their business,” she stated.
“Because we aren’t the first to go to cloud, partners all knew this is coming, and are pleased that we are tackling it from both a partner and product perspective,” Martin said. “It is good news for us as well that when pure SaaS providers offer the cloud, they are competing with their partners, whereas we want our partners to have the apps later because managing them well on behalf of the customer is a complex job. This program is necessitated by the whole larger shift from project-based work to managed services, rather than from our technology displacing them.”
A key part of the Cloud Partner program will be working out how Citrix and its’ partners’ relationship with Microsoft will translate programmatically.
“The next step here with Microsoft and the channel is to develop what the next generation of the channel will look like, and how this will be reflected on the mutual partners that both companies have,” said Steve Blacklock, Citrix’s Vice President, Global Strategic Alliances.
“We will dive in to how Microsoft’s channel compensates around Azure, and that will be part of the Cloud Program we will launch in January,” Martin added.
Martin also provided an update on the progress of the three major channel initiatives that Citrix announced in April. Two of them, the Net New Partner Sourced program, and the reworking of the Citrix Advisor Rewards [CAR] program, have already rolled out. The third, the new Strategic Development Fund for Citrix Solution Advisors, which replaces Citrix’s MDF funding, starts in June.
The Net New Partner Sourced program added an additional seven per cent margin for partners qualifying new opportunities, even among their existing customer base.
“This front-end incentives program launched two weeks ago, and we already consider that we have over $20 million in our incremental pipe as a result of that,” Martin said. “Partner reaction has been strong because it allows them to pursue ‘hunter’ opportunities with less individual chance of success but more potential of payoff if a new client is secured, and allows them to invest incremental resources.”
The simplifying of the CAR program in response to partner feedback was designed to remove ambiguities in defining criteria about partner participation in deals, and to increase the amount of partner rewards, rather than to be neutral.
“We have had such a positive reaction to this, which included things like getting rid of high touch accounts,” Martin said. “We showed we want partners in all customer segments.”
The third programmatic element, the replacement of Citrix’s MDF programs with a new Strategic Development Fund [SDF], was motivated by Citrix’s determination that their MDF spend simply wasn’t delivering the higher growth rates that are the whole purpose of such programs.
“The new SDF launches in June, and we have had a fairly positive reaction from partners so far,” Martin said. “Originally, they were concerned that funding support would be reduced. But we have made a commitment that we will continue the same level of investment with partners. There’s no decrease in funds. It’s now all in one lock bock, and we will track ROI. Partners were concerned there would be less money in the lock box. It’s just the same amount of funds. The difference is before, we had a lot of partners who weren’t using their little lock boxes effectively. Now it’s pooled to be allocated for our more strategic partners.”
Martin said that some new types of partner marketing initiatives are being developed in response to the changes.
“We are seeing some partners now running campaigns together, particularly national campaigns,” she said.