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Jan 30 / The Architect

Are Citrix penalising small independent partners?

At the recent Citrix partner conference, Citrix announced sweeping changes to their Solution Adviser channel partner program.

The main changes are that bigger discounts on SRP are now offered to partners who classify under one of four new Citrix Specialist tracks:

  • Virtualisation
  • Mobility Management
  • Networking for data centre
  • Networking for App and mobile security

Citrix are also throwing in a number of ancillary benefits:

  • Increased competitive differentiation
  • Incremental Specialist discounts and rewards
  • Increased profitability with short ROI
  • Recognition for technical expertise via Citrix endorsement
  • Strengthened trust and engagement with Citrix sales team

All sounds great right? Anyone who relies on Citrix for their business would be foolish not register. Indeed it does, until you start to dig into the entry requirements.

Qualifying as a specialist isn’t easy (neither should it be) – you need to have three CCE-V‘s in the organisation (the top level certification Citrix offers),  three customer references, sit a hands-on “practicum” exam (remember the old CCIAs?), and finally have two staff who have taken and passed all four additional courses:

  • Leveraging Citrix Sales and Demo Tools
  • Applying the Citrix Consulting Methodology
  • Think Like a Citrix Support Engineer
  • CCSP 2015

So only partners with at least three CCE-V’s can become specialists.

Having worked with Citrix products for over a decade, I’d consider myself a specialist in many of the above areas. But I’m now prevented from marketing myself as such, because there isn’t three of me as required by the entry criteria. This also means I can’t benefit from all the additional discounts, “competitive differentiation” and technical recognition other larger partners will no doubt be gaining.

So, yes, Citrix are penalising smaller independent partners by preventing us, purely based on size, from registering as specialists

Why bigger isn’t always better

Does size matter? I asked my wife, and she said “it depends”. Size is important when as a partner you are bidding for large implementation projects for big customers, or in the public sector. Your business needs the resilience to not depend on a small number of key individuals (although you’d be amazed at how often this occurs, even in huge corporations). But size isn’t everything.

When size does matter, Citrix have higher tiers of their partner program specifically to cater for this requirement : Gold and Platinum.

When size shouldn’t matter is when judging competency, and thus determining whether someone is a “specialist” in their field or not.

With some time and effort (at my own expense) I could meet all the entry criteria for becoming a Citrix Specialist, apart from one – the requirement to have three of me.

As cloning technology isn’t yet mature, I’m resigned to appearing at the bottom of “find a partner” search results on, watching other, larger, partners get more business, make more profit and get more recognition from Citrix from their Specialist qualification.

The CSA program will now be very much a two tiered affair – those who a serious about their Citrix partnership (and thus gain the specialism) and everyone else (either those who being a Citrix partner is just a tick-box exercise so they can sell a few licenses, or those like me, who are too small to qualify).

Customers will of course always prefer dealing with Specialist partners, so the non-specialists will struggle to compete on the same level.

So, whilst I broadly welcome the addition of the specialist qualification to the CSA program, I implore Citrix not to restrict them to larger partners only and remove the requirements based upon size.

I’ve been critical of Citrix CSA program changes in the past, and Citrix did eventually listen and take feedback on board. Will they do the same now?

  • Are you in the same boat?
  • Do you there there’s a place for forming an “unbrella” organisation for small independents who can meet the requirements?
  • I’d love to hear your comments below.


Leave a comment
  1. Simon Townsend / Jan 30 2015

    You know how much I respect your skillsets and experience and hence i sympathise, but I think partners that meet the certification levels can offer more from a business support point of view than smaller independents or consulting gigs. Different requirements. Having “Consulting partners” could be an option or you could join forces with others to achieve the level….create the Neil spellings franchise model. 🙂

  2. Tim / Jan 30 2015

    It’s good and bad. I think one of the bigger drivers is there are sales-focused orgs that have a minimal bench, but act like they have a lot. Part of sales pitch is “oh, we have 800 engineers” and really they have 1 or 2 citrix engineers. Pre-sales is super rockstar, implementation person that shows up can’t spell Citrix..

    It might be more fair if it was based on something related to % of staff certified if you’re over size X. Or maybe you have to disclose the actual engineer count at certification X as part of the introduction, assuming you’re selling services.

  3. D.T / Jan 30 2015

    Hey Neil – I’m glad to see the great discussion here and as always appreciate your feedback. I know you reached out to us with these same thoughts during Summit, but with traveling and such we didn’t have a chance to connect yet. We will send you an email so that we can talk directly soon. Thanks again for the candid feedback.
    -Derrick, Citrix Specialist Partner Program

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