Dell is creating a new top partner tier in the first major re-engineering of its PartnerDirect scheme since its launch in 2008.
About a tenth of the 550 EMEA partners that sit in Dell's current top-level Certified tier will move up to Premier level later this month as the vendor aims to differentiate its most skilled partners.
This will net them access to higher discounts, a named channel marketing manager, priority leads and 180-day deal registration.
The remainder will see no change but will be re-classified as Preferred partners
as the Certified brand is canned altogether. Dell's 38,000 lower-level accredited partners in EMEA will not be affected.
Premier partners must be certified on at least two of Dell's four technology tracks (servers, storage, networking and security, and systems management). They must also pass a revenue gate, which is about $500,000 (£303,000) higher than Preferred partners.
Kathy Schneider, channel marketing and programmes director at Dell EMEA, described the changes as a "consistent next step" in Dell's channel strategy as it pushes further into the enterprise market through acquisition.
"We wanted to distinguish those partners that make the highest investment in Dell.
"This is intertwined with our corporate strategy, which is to make Dell an enterprise technology solutions provider. It is important to see the channel as an enabler of this, not separate from it."
Dell is still finalising how many of its Certified partners will hold Premier status but indicated it would be between eight and 15 per cent. Dell has just over 80 Certified resellers in the UK.
Warwick Everett, director of Certified partner Freestyle IT, warned Dell not to fall into the trap of favouring large partners.
"To be fair to Dell, the costs associated with becoming certified have been very low," he said.
"If its new scheme stays close to the current one in terms of cost, then it should be supported by SME resellers."
Some three years on from Dell's formal entrance into the channel, the vendor now generates 29 per cent of sales from the channel, with the EMEA figure also standing in the high 20s. The number of EMEA Preferred and Premier partners is likely to hit 700 to 800 by the end of 2010, Schneider said.
Schneider stressed that Dell's corporate strategy is to acquire eight to 10 companies a year and said future purchases would likely see more technology tracks added to PartnerDirect.
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