ORLANDO, Fla. — Computer Associates International Inc. (CA) is actively recruiting new consultants, VARs and integrators for its revamped channel partner program.

Ira Simon, the company’s divisional vice-president of channel marketing, told CDN in an interview on Tuesday at CA World 2001 that the new program addresses four categories of partners — affiliate, premier, OEM and enterprise.

The program evolved from an older version, the VIP Channel Partner Program, which was launched at CA World 1999 and divided partners into two categories — workgroup edition and enterprise edition resellers — according to what products they were selling. Workgroup edition solutions were the “shrink-wrapped, single server one-price out the door two-tier type of products,” whereas enterprise edition technology was more of the multi-server, full function type of technology, Simon explained.

However, the new version of the program divides partners into different profiles and offers benefits to support them according to reseller feedback from surveys and industry analyst research, he said.

The enterprise category is the newest one for CA because out of the approximately 1,300 solutions the company offers, only a subset are sold through the indirect sales model. “Our products tend to scale to the higher-end . . . For a channel partner to be able to successfully sell, for a customer to have a positive experience with CA software via a channel partner, most of our solutions require pretty good knowledge about the technology they’re trying to sell.”

But the enterprise space is also the fastest-growing for CA. “That’s where we’re going to be actively recruiting to sell the higher-end solutions,” said Simon.

The enterprise category caters to partners who sell, deploy and support CA’s enterprise-class management solutions like networking, security, storage and information management solutions. The program offers enterprise partners discounted technical support, access to member-only extranet, as well as certification and training.

Doug McLaren, vice-president of channel sales for the company’s Toronto-based office, said over the next nine months, the company is looking to add four to six Canadian enterprise partners who deal with storage solutions, as well as10 to 15 who are involved in security.

The timing couldn’t be better for Canadian partners, given that it’s a value-based partner program, added McLaren. With the growth of markets like security and managed service provision, “for current partners of CA in Canada as well as new partners, the value-based program makes it very easy for them to get involved in some of the high-growth markets,” he said.

CA Canada currently has about 600 to 700 resellers that fit into the affiliate category, said McLaren. Affiliate resellers buy their products through volume distributors and serve the small- to mid-sized market. Through the program they receive product update information and resource kits, Web-based technical support and access to marketing, sales, training tools and discounted demonstration software.

Hardware and software manufacturers as well as solution providers fit into the OEM category, which provides enhanced marketing, technical and development support.

Premier partners include resellers that reach regionally-defined sales volumes requirements — in North America the “monetary bar” is US$250,000 of CA product each year, said Simon. These partners also require a lot more in terms of marketing, so the program offers marketing development funds and a connection to a regional CA sales rep who can help manage and execute marketing initiatives.

Softchoice Corp., a Toronto-based software reseller, fits into the premier category. Dave MacDonald, Softchoice’s senior vice-president and COO, said likes the new partner program because it is more partner-focused instead of product-focused. It also mirrors the way Softchoice deals with its own clients. “We don’t go to our customers and talk about only storage (or) security solutions,” he said. “We talk to them about their overall requirements and then we deal with them on what their needs are, based on their environment.”

MacDonald said he expects the marketing support that will be supplied for Softchoice’s 35 branches across North America – 29 of which are in the U.S. — will help grow the reseller’s market share south of the border.

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