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Aug 24 / The Architect

Why I think the new Citrix partner program entry requirement is bad for customers

Update Feb 2012: Partner membership cancelled without notification

Well, I kind of expected this to happen, although didn’t expect to receive no notification whatsoever when it did. Logged into mycitrix.com today to grab a download, and all the partner toolbox options had gone.

A quick email to Partner operations confirmed that my partner membership had expired and wasn’t renewed because of not meeting the $10k minimum sales limit. They could of emailed to say goodbye! Thanks Citrix!

Fortunately, they showed some common sense, seeing that I’m certified against pretty much every one of their products, so re-instated my membership for another year upon request.

 

The problem

Citrix recently added an addition entry condition to their Solution Advisors partner programme where partners have to have been responsible for directly selling or influencing sales of $10,000 of  “new business” each calendar year to become or maintain their partner status.

As a Citrix Solution advisor, we already have to maintain our certifications on all the products we implement for our customers (CCA on XenApp, XenDesktop, XenServer, Netscaler plus CCEA and CCIA across all products), plus maintain the various sales training tracks (CCSP).

Maintaining these certifications comes at a price, but is an acceptable cost to ensure we give our clients the best possible technical advice. It is not unusual for a Citrix Solution advisor to operate a 100% consultancy business. This mean we don’t tend to “sell physical things” to our clients. Our clients have either already purchased their Citrix products, and need help implementing/fixing/upgrading them, or if they are at the evaluation stage, they are likely to procure via one of their existing commercial arrangements with the larger SIs such as Dell, HP or ComputaCenter.

This means that we’re unlikely to come even close to meeting the new annual sales targets, and will be removed from the Partner program at the end of the year.

But you can still influence a deal and submit an advisor reward (say Citrix)

That’s true, so we tried it. The reward was rejected as another mystery partner had already logged the opportunity (presumably before we even came on board), despite us being the sole partner being involved in the design and implementation. The actual licenses were purchased by the client via an existing supplier (a large SI..maybe they also registered the AR? Who knows…)

What benefits have our (and thus Citrix’s) customers gained from us being partners?

Evaluation licenses

The eval licenses partners are able to request via mycitrix.com have been used several times when clients wish to trial particular Citrix products on a short-term basis. We have even prevented outages by utilising eval licenses when production licenses expired whilst the client sorts out purchase orders etc. Eval licenses also allow us to maintain our own lab environment that we can use for integration testing of customers requirements against Citrix products and technology. This has been used a number of times to test a particular solution quickly without requiring any infrastructure from the customer.

Summit

We benefit from the range of learning labs available at summit, as the learning labs for Synergy sell out almost immediately. This increases our technical awareness of Citrix products that we may not use day-to-day.

Fast quotations

Being partners we can provide rapid quotations to clients from Citrix distributors. This removes a “link in the chain” of us having to go to another partner to get pricing on Citrix products, meaning we can provide a better service to our clients.

Experience and knowledge

The whole point of being an advisor is to “advise”. We go through the training and product understanding to get the best technical knowledge, and at the same time work with the customers to understand their goals and issues. We can help drive the justification for maintaining SA, keep projects on track, offer insight into new technology. We help our customers to realise the potential of their Citrix investment.

If we fail to meet these annual sales target, our clients will lose out. Plain and simple.

What can Citrix do?

  1. Well, our preferred option would be for Citrix to drop the annual minimum revenue requirements for maintaining partner status.
  2. Introduce a new subscription-based partner tier (Bronze? Consulantancy?) for partners who are purely focused on  consulting services. This isn’t unusual within the industry  – Microsoft for example have a similar scheme that incorporates their Action Pack subscription – £200 per year and you get NFR/in-house use licenses for all their major software to encourage learning and experience of the consultancies of Microsoft’s partner network. It could even be possible to allow this tier of smaller, consultancy-only partners to be a resource for larger organisations.
  3. The current advisor rewards system is open to abuse. Partners “carpet bag” reward claims across multiple vendors (inc. Citrix) when they first get a sniff of a new customer project or deal, even if they end up not being the partner who does all the heavy lifting. Citrix need to tighten this up.
  4. Citrix currently exclude renewals in the annual revenue calculations:

Sales of Subscription Advantage, Appliance Maintenance, Hardware Warranty, Education, Consulting, and Technical Support are not included in the Product Sales calculation.

Including these would reward partners who maintained continuing relationships with their clients, and make it easier to meet the minimum sales targets

The goal for a partner network is to grow and maintain relationships with customers to drive Citrix product sales. The up and coming rule change occludes an important channel.  There needs to be a re-think to allow dedicated partners to maintain continuing relationships with their clients, and ensure that Citrix customers don’t lose out.

One Comment

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  1. k.baggerman / Sep 19 2011

    One of the solutions could be to create a different level of partnership. This isn’t uncommon:

    RES: http://www.ressoftware.com/partners/by-type/msp-partners
    VMware: http://www.vmware.com/partners/programs/solution-provider/index.html
    Microsoft: http://www.microsoft.com/hk/certpartner/default.mspx

    These are entry level partnerships that acknowledge the existence of independent consultants and their main line of business: Selling their knowledge and know-how instead of licenses and maintenance.

    In general Citrix’s partner program can be improved, there’s a big gap between the Silver and Gold partnership in sales target and certification requirements. Maybe it’s an idea to lift the Silver partnership halfway these requirements and create a Bronze partnership (10k sales target) and a Consulting partnership (No sales target).

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