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Change Happens: Evolving the NetApp Unified Partner Program

Chris Lamborn

When I hear the word evolution, I instinctively think about biology and the change in characteristics of a species over time. For now, however, I’ll talk about changing the characteristics of our partner program over time instead.

Our values include a commitment to partner profitability, ease of doing business, and advancing an excellent return on our partnerships. We do this in part through ongoing partner listening activities and always ask how we can make our programs better. As a direct result of our partners’ input, we make ongoing improvements to our portfolio, programs, policies, and processes.

As we considered updates to the Unified Partner Program this year, we kept in mind the challenges of the current business climate and partner feedback to “keep the NetApp Partner Program simple and focused.” Additionally, our customers tell us that they need partners, of all types, who are subject-matter experts in new and evolving areas and who can help them successfully design and implement their Digital Transformation projects.

In light of this, we are evolving the NetApp Unified Partner Program in several ways, using the following four core principles:

Simplification: We are unifying contracts and agreements, with a goal of having one contract for partners, regardless of how partners do business with us. We’re streamlining our guides and policies, and offering fewer, more focused, annual deal-based incentive programs and rewards for growth.   Expansion: We’re expanding the ecosystem, adding Registered Level Partners and giving them more access to more resources, tools and enablement and a clear path to growth. Cloud First partners now belong to the NetApp Unified Partner Program and gain access to all the benefits of the Unified Partner Program. And all partners are able to sell cloud services. We’ve built out NetApp Learning Services training programs for cloud partners, providing a path for partners to achieve the Cloud Preferred Business Capability. New service providers training focus on the business value of a NetApp infrastructure.   Investment: NetApp will continue to invest in tools like WorkSpan that make planning and doing business together easier. The new NetApp Partner Incentive Tool makes it easier to manage and measure investments in marketing development funds (MDF) and rebates and rewards. Our newest partner incentives, launched in May 2020, are simple, consistent and focused and span the entire portfolio. Some can be stacked with others for maximum payout and profitability. They include the New Account, Install Base Tech Refresh, Run to NetApp competitive takeout and Cloud Data Services incentives.

Additional incentives that become available in August 2020 focus on key competitors and driving Keystone subscriptions.   Differentiation: We will showcase partners with specific and focused specializations and business capabilities, highlighting those who provide services across key focus areas, including XaaS, SAP, services, and more. We’ve updated our long-standing FlexPod specialization, simplifying the requirements, enhancing the financial benefits, and adding marketing to support partners’ selling efforts.

We continue to monitor the business climate and changes in technology and the industry as well as listen to both partners and customers on a regular basis. As the next year progresses, you will see us roll out new features of our partner program, with an eye towards more simplification, increased profitability and additional ways for our partners to differentiate.

Watch for regular communications on how we’ve evolving the NetApp Unified Partner Program. Learn more about NetApp’s partner first approach and how we empower our partners to grow and succeed.

Chris Lamborn

Chris Lamborn joined NetApp in November 2015 & is currently Head of WW Partner GTM and Programs. He is responsible for the development and implementation of the company’s Global Channel go-to-market strategy and the supporting programs and investments. NetApp’s Channel Partner eco-system forms the foundation of the business, supporting and contributing over 75% of the company’s revenue. Chris is a respected leader with extensive experience working with global partners and proven success in partnering to deliver incremental revenue and profitability. His detailed understanding of the multiple Partner business practices and experience of working with operations, marketing, finance across the world ensures predictable, relevant and profitable business partnerships. Prior to NetApp, Chris held distribution leadership positions at Brocade, Avaya and Nortel and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Kingston University in the UK and he moved to permanently to California in 2016.

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