EMC Corp. has expanded of its Authorized Services Network (ASN) Program to include mid-market resellers and systems integrators. As part of the new program they will deliver EMC’s Clariion-based professional services for storage area networks (SAN) and network attached storage (NAS) implementations.

“”Our

extension of the program is another logical step in our strategy of enabling our partners from a services perspective,”” said John Koury, vice president of channel marketing for EMC. “”We have a very strong belief that enabling the partner from a services perspective is the best way to guarantee that the customer is going to get first-class service.””

Mid-market resellers fall into a new category of ASN partners called Focus. The two existing categories are Select and Advanced, with the latter being the highest tier a partner can achieve. Classification depends upon partners’ EMC service capabilities and expertise. The ASN Program was created in 2001 to sell EMC products to the mid-market and commercial space.

The announcement is part of EMC’s ongoing effort over the past year to develop a channel program for partners that resell Clariion products. Traditionally, one-third of EMC’s sales is through the channel.

“”We think that it’s a key component to growing our business and growing our partners’ business in the mid-range space,”” said Koury.

Another important factor in the decision, Koury added, is that 40 per cent of revenue that partners receive comes from professional services (separate from hardware and software).

The ASN program is designed to go alongside the Velocity Partner Program, EMC’s reseller program for its Clariion products, which was introduced last year. Velocity, like ASN, is also based on a three-tier system.

“”What we’ve done is taken our ASN and created the tier to align it with Velocity program,”” said Russ Greene, director of partner services for EMC. “”We’ve created an entry level tier to address our mid-market initiatives specifically with Clariion.””

“”The two programs are absolutely arm and arm,”” added Koury.

Qualified Velocity partners will also be included in the ASN and will be given access to EMC intellectual property, training, mentoring and licensed service delivery methodologies for a range of Clariion-based SAN and NAS professional services.

There are 19 ASN partners in the U.S, with six or seven more in transition. EMC is negotiating with four potential partners in Canada. At press time Koury and Greene declined to provide the names of the companies.

Greene, however, did make a general statement about EMC’s channel program in Canada.

“”We’re making substantial progress with our channel organization in Canada mapping out and recruiting and integrating a set of new partners right now so we’re very excited about the progress we’re making,”” said Greene.

But Greene emphasized that EMC isn’t going after numbers.

“”Our mantra here isn’t to chase quantity, it’s to chase the quality partners,”” said Greene.

In order to become a partner, resellers must meet a set of criteria including strong professional services within their organization, storage competency and financial viability.

“”We want to make sure we’re doing it with partners that are a little bit battle-scarred because it does require some degree of infrastructure to be able to go out and deliver on these professional services,”” said Greene.

Out of all the qualities, the partner’s ability to meet the customer’s satisfaction level is the most important.

“”Customer satisfaction is absolutely paramount. It cuts right at the core of how we select the partners for entry into the program. They have to have the ability to demonstrate to us a track record of delivering consistent high quality that meets EMC standards,”” said Greene.

Partners who qualify for the new ASN tier will complete a 10-day EMC training program. For $4,000 US, resellers get hands-on training in delivering professional services including implementing and integrating Clariion in SAN and NAS environments and configuring EMC PowerPath software for single and multiple servers.

In terms of return on investment, Koury says partners are in a much better position to offer customers value for their dollar.

“”If the end user has the ability to have a local partner be able to not only sell them the equipment but install the equipment, maintain the equipment, add to it, reconfigure as needed, add new software layers, for example, into the environment, partners can generally do that at lower cost, they tend to be local, they tend to be on-site. We believe that has to translate to a cost savings for the end user,”” he said.

Koury and Greene are optimistic about what the channel expansion means for EMC.

“”Our channel business is growing very nicely for us. We’re looking for it to grow as well at least in 2004,”” said Koury.

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