Networking software vendor Novell is laying down stricter guidelines for dealers with the launch of the Novell service partner scheme, designed to update the skills of Novell authorised service centres.
Dealers need to have three engineers dedicated to support, including one at the end of a hotline, to qualify for the scheme.
Membership costs #8,000 although Novell has announced an introductory offer of accreditation for #3,300 during the first 90 days of the programme.
June May, VP of operations for Novell Technical Services in EMEA, said: 'Previously, a partner could have certified netware engineers (CNEs) but they would not necessarily be dedicated to support. We are not going to have dealers saying that they have 3CNEs and then find out they're working in sales.
'We want to make sure they are helping with the quality of service they give to Novell customers.'
May admitted that support was inconsistent across Europe as a result.
Novell is also charging for technical support to the channel for the first time with its preferred service offer. Preferred service consists of three levels: preferred 100, 200 and 300. Prices start at #20,000.
In return for putting CNEs place, Novell is promising account management, more marketing funds and priority access to support. Dealers taking part in the scheme will also be listed on the vendor's support connection Web site.
One dealer raised questions about Novell's plans. 'How are they going to police such a scheme. No one's going to stop taking on business by saying their CNEs are all tied up in support. They'll move them across to sales and how are Novell going to know?'
May claimed that this would not be a problem. 'We didn't do a lot of checking before but now we will do audits with them,' she said.
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