Availability and disaster recovery vendor Zerto is announcing the latest step in the restructuring of its Zerto Alliance Partner (ZAP) Program, with the creation of a new technical alliances program. It is, however, an alliances program which is considerably different from many in the industry.
“ZAP was originally a program just for traditional reseller channel partners,” said Peter Kerr, Director of Global Alliances at Zerto. “Last fall we introduced a new element within the program for cloud service provider partners. This is the last piece. The Zero technical alliances program is for partners who don’t fit into the other two buckets, who aren’t resellers, or cloud providers. It is for partners where Zerto runs on top of them, concurrent with them or has tight integration with them.”
This is the first time that Zerto has constructed such a program for other vendors. Kerr said the delay is in large part because this program is different from the way such programs are typically constructed.
“Alliances programs are very common in the industry, but for companies our size, they are typically heavily underutilized as a source of strategic value,” he stated. “You have multi-billon dollar companies making agreements with other billion dollar companies, which lead to things like the original VCE. Once you go to a level below that, into early to mid-life companies, alliances are undervalued, because of a lack of knowledge of what kind of solutions those companies can build. With this kind of program, the purpose is how can we combine Zerto with something else that builds a solution that fills in gaps.”
That requires more than a program that just shares APIs, Kerr said. The program thus heavily emphasizes investments by both partners in things like field marketing. That costs money, and explains why Zerto didn’t have this kind of program earlier.
“It takes a certain maturity of the company to do it this way, with our alliance program focused around reciprocity,” he said. “We invest and the partner company invests in a comparable way. At the Gold level, they spend at least $75,000 on field marketing while we do as well. We generate leads, and go to shows together. The appetite to do that isn’t there before a company has more stable revenues. Thus, this program is a sign that our revenues have stabilized to the point that we can carry the costs of the program.”
The vendor program is set up much like a reseller channel program both in its structure and its incent system.
“We went through a thorough evaluation of how to structure this,” Kerr said. “I was a big proponent of not being focused on access to the product. We want to drive technical alliance partnerships to enable bidirectional communication for all puzzle pieces, which includes field marketing working together. It’s not just about access to the product, but access to co-investment. In that sense we reward them much like channel partners.”
The program has three tiers – the ubiquitous Silver, Gold and Platinum membership levels.
“The Platinum partners are the major public cloud providers, and in our program, that’s Microsoft and IBM,” Kerr said. “Gold partners are emerging infrastructure providers – the ones challenging Dell EMC – and Silver are smaller partners that are aggressive in pursuing market share but aren’t yet at the size of the public companies.” The Gold Partners include AWS, HPE, Nutanix, Pure Storage, Quantum Corporation, and Nimble Storage, which of course has now been purchased by HPE. The Silver partners are ExaGrid, Infinidat, Kaminario, Pivot3, Tegile, Embotics and Turbonomics.
Kerr indicated that the metallic tier names come from a desire to be consistent with the overall ZAP program, but that unlike in that program, a Platinum partner might not be the most important to Zerto. It just reflects the nature of their business.
“The names don’t mean that Gold Partners are less important than Platinum,” he said.
“There is also a self service registered level which is all about access to API,” Kerr added. “The other tier requirements involve building an integration with Zero, marketing spend, collaboration around field marketing, joint customers integrating products, and ability and willingness to support joint customers.”
Kerr said Zerto is eager to expand its alliance partners with other companies who like this particular model.
“We would like to invite companies adjacent to the backup and DR space to evaluate this and see if this is the right kind of partnership for them,” he said. “It’s abut much more than API access. It’s active support to build joint solutions, and is both for small and large companies.”