It’s a familiar challenge for channel partners pitching converged services that rely on separate components from different vendors. How can they present their client with a clear unified message when the products they are talking about come with separate programs?

Network gear company Cisco Systems Inc., cloud computing firm EMC and VCE are closing ranks to offer for the first time a combined channel program that speaks with “one voice” around their VCE converged infrastructure offerings. VCE is a virtual computing environment formed in 2011 by Cisco, EMC and VMware.

The three companies ran separate programs in the past, which led to some confusion around product and contract requirements.

The new Cloud Infrastructure Solution Accelerator program will head off potential difficulties around program discrepancies typically faced by partners when they deal with customers, according to Brian Allison, director of partner solutions for the worldwide channels group at Cisco.

“For many partners, these type of conversations need to start with the CIO or VP of infrastructure,” Allison said. “At that level there needs to be a clear message to answer questions like: why are we talking about separate servers and storage when this is about converged infrastructure?”

Chris Sullivan, vice-president of channel and investor alliances at VCE, said the converged infrastructure space contains some of the fastest growing opportunities for the three companies’ lines of business.

“We are seeing tremendous industry momentum and opportunity here and we want to give our partners the support they need to take advantage of that,” he said.

The new program is jointly owned by Cisco, EMC and VCE. It focuses on VCE’s Vblock converged infrastructure products as well, as Cisco’s networking gear and EMC’s VSPEX data centre products.

The Cloud Infrastructure Solutions Accelerator program will also include:

  • Joint field engagement business and marketing plans targeted at Vblock and VSPEX partners with Cisco, EMC and VCE
  • Solution enablement sales training boot camps and role-based certifications
  • Targeted demand generation assistance and customized campaigns for Vblock and VSPEX
  • Sales incentive programs for VSPEX and Vblock deals

The incentives include a two per cent rebate for partners on Vblock System 300 systems, a three per cent front-end guaranteed discount on the EMC portion of VSPEX deals and a three per cent back-end rebate on the Cisco portion of VSPEX deals.

The move aligns the programs around the products from the three companies and provides “clear swim lanes and direction for partners” to help them close a deal, said Tom Tormey, vice-president of alliances at EMC.

He said the program provides a formal framework for EMC, Cisco, and VCE solution providers selling either EMC’s VSPEX reference architecture, or VCE’s Vblock or a mix of Cisco, EMC and VCE products.

“There is no one size fits all in the cloud. This program offers our partners and their customers, choice,” he said.

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