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The rules of engagement between partners and their vendors

Shantheri Mallaya | Nov. 1, 2013
Amid the mish mash of the dollar-rupee yo-yo and a host of other political imbroglios, one wonders whether partner programs are keeping pace and staying relevant with the new realities of economics.

Through this, Alliance Prosys has been able to close a few important MNC accounts and its business has grown by 30 percent over the last couple of quarters, with Microsoft contributing to about 48 percent of the overall topline.

However, discussions with non-LAR, namely the Enterprise Agreement (EA) partners do throw up the fact that Microsoft's partner program has to ensure a few things for them. Currently, as per the rules, if an EA partner has to make a quote, he has to route it through an LAR, without any credit for the license. All the quoting partner gets is a reward on the solution sale. Also, LARs wield enough power to influence which partner gets a reward or who doesn't. These aspects constrain the non-LAR partners. Microsoft partners are also expecting key changes at the program level to be announced the coming month. So, as of now, it is a wait and watch game.

Citrix partners (Citrix Solution Advisors) have for long been asking for OR mechanisms that will secure their deals better. Mehta of Magnamious Systems feels that structured OR can prevent larger partners from eating into the deals of smaller partners. And also, maybe prevent conflict between whether a smaller partner gets the full project or is outsourced only a portion of a larger deal. "We have observed that these conflicts happen and we can't do much to prevent them," says Mehta. Keeping this in mind, Citrix has slowly brought in OR for partners in India as well (post the Synergy Summit that happened at LA). "We are yet to see how this pans out for us in India," he says. Partners such as Mehta also feel that Citrix has to streamline the number of Citrix Solution Advisors (CSAs), since the inactive members could eventually eat into the active partners' margins. Magnamious says it has witnessed flat growth in the last two to three years, because of constraints and the fact that till recently, Citrix hadn't put in any revenue mandates on the partner. "All this will change soon we hope, with recent announcements about revenue commitments," says Mehta.

Putta of Alliance Prosys seconds that. He also feels that apart from the absence of revenue commitments from partners, Citrix's focus is more on services and consultancy (with AMCs) and less on products and solutions. Also, market opportunities for solution advisors is limited. As a result, Alliance Prosys hasn't been doing extensive Citrix business. "We are open to and can consider enhancing the Citrix business only if the existing partnership model is tweaked a bit and if Citrix opens up more direct business for us," says Putta.

Cisco's pricing structure has come for a little bit of criticism. Partners such as Proactive's Kumar and Peak XV Networks' MD Deepak Hoskere—a Cisco partner since 2002—believe that the pricing (a variable of the list price) is the weakness of the system and is hugely dependent on account managers. This, in turn, has long-term ramifications in the form of conflict, with different partners quoting different prices and some getting competitive advantage based on that. "As a result, we identify our own clients; we don't rely too much on the vendor," says Hoskere.


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