"You are incredibly important, we need you. We know we do things that aren't perfect, but we want to be as close to perfect as we can. Let us know if we do things a little wrong and when we're doing things right. We are as dedicated to your success as we are to our success. It goes without saying, but I will - thank you - we couldn't do it without you."
Declarations of commitment, promises to work on problems and pledges to improve relationships in the future: this all might sound like something straight out of a romcom, but the above were not the words of Ryan Gosling or Jennifer Aniston, rather EMC's chief executive Joe Tucci, who showed his ardour for the channel in Nevada this month.
Very few vendors would encourage thousands of delegates to trek across the globe to be told anything other than the fact that they are the centre of the company's universe and the most important part of their business; and EMC was no different at its Global Partner Summit (GPS) which formed part of its EMC World event in Las Vegas.
A string of executives bounded onto the GPS stage declaring their love for partners, offering honeyed speeches and statistics which demonstrated their commitment to the channel over recent years. Tucci claimed that more than half of its global business is transacted through the channel, with EMEA chiefs insisting the figure was nearer 75 per cent in the region.
But talk is cheap, and if action is what resellers wanted, then it is doubtful they would have been disappointed, as EMC unveiled a wave of significant changes to its channel business.
A whole new partner programme from 2014, a brand-spanking new partner portal, a wave of innovative technology to get its teeth into and a new EMEA distributor partner - what more could a girl want?
EMC's Velocity partner programme, to which more than 4,000 UK partners have signed up since its launch in 2003, is on its way out, and will be axed from 1 January next year. Currently, VARs are accredited in a traditional tiered programme whereby the more accreditations - or specialities - a partner has, the higher it climbs up the rungs of its partner ladder; from Affiliate to Affiliate Elite, to Premier and finally to the highest tier, Signature. Just three months ago, the vendor updated the programme in an effort to encourage partners to join its top two tiers by removing revenue requirements and increasing rebate payments.
In less than a year since the most recent changes were hailed as the future of Velocity, EMC will have axed the programme. From 2014, all EMC channel partners will instead be referred to as "Business Partners", regardless of the number of specialities they have or the amount of time or money they invest in EMC.
EMC claims the move - details of which are still being finalised - will better align partners to the firm, and reflects what it claims is the changing channel market. So far, only the rebranding has been settled upon, with phase two - which will see any structural changes made to the programme - to follow later next year.
Bill McGloin, Computacenter's practice lead for storage and data optimisation, told CRN that he had some concerns about all partners being referred to by the same title, suggesting that resellers which invest more heavily in the vendor, such as Computacenter, may not get as much status or recognition as they do with the tiered titles.
"It was my concern initially, if you look at some very, very small partners, that they would look to be the same status [as us]. I am not going to lose too much sleep over it; it just means we will have lots of different logos [to represent specialities] instead, but it will not affect how we do business.
"However, I would prefer having something which designates our status," he said, adding that Computacenter's size means that customers are aware of its status anyway so the reseller would not be affected as significantly as some lesser-known partners might be.
However, EMC reseller 101 Data Solutions' owner Brett Edgecombe claimed the move away from the tiered structure allows smaller VARs such as his the chance to gain recognition for their specialisms without having to jump through the same hoops as the larger resellers.
He said: "Velocity has lost momentum; it has been around for some time now, and it has [involved] having static goals to meet instead of working with businesses to enhance what we are already doing. Targets and static goals do not fit all resellers, it is old and the marketplace has changed - it is more dynamic now.
"[The new approach] is great because it is more suitable to what we do. We do not have to fit into their structure. They are looking at where we are going as a business and why we are being successful and then aligning with us. They are listening, and that is encouraging for the long term."
McGloin added that EMC's commitment to changing its ageing Powerlink partner portal will be welcomed by resellers, which he said in the past have had difficulty using the tool.
When EMC's head of global channels Gregg Ambulos revealed that a new portal was on the cards, partners at the GPS keynote applauded, which Ambulos admitted was due to it "not being the easiest" to work with.
Computacenter's McGloin said: "I know my way around Powerlink and it can still take me a while to find what I want. I think they are making it more user-friendly. Historically it was very slow; there is so much on there so finding things can be a problem, and that explains the round of applause. Performance and accessibility have not been great, but they have been improved - it will be nice to have a new, shiny interface.
"I can't wait to see what it is like."
During the EMC World event, Azlan confirmed that it was set to join Arrow and Avnet in EMC's EMEA distributor line-up in order to recruit a wave of mid-market resellers.
The Tech Data-owned distributor's director Nigel Dunn (pictured, left) said that EMC's impressive growth rate and continued gains in market share mean that there is more than enough scope to recruit a range of new resellers, especially in the relatively untapped space of the SMB market in which Azlan will play.
At the event, Dunn told CRN he feels EMC is strategically opening up in a way it has not done in the past.
He said: "I dealt with EMC a few years ago, back in 2006, and it was a great opportunity at the time, but I found an almost cliquey atmosphere in the EMC marketplace.
"But now we are finding a refreshing new way of thinking - all this to-do with big data and the third platform for IT means EMC cannot afford to operate in that sort of environment, they have to look at other players in other market sections and there is a genuine feeling that will happen.
"I think the message for us as a distributor was that there has never been a better time to work with EMC, and I think that is the case. It is refreshing."
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