The future of channel partner programmes is in specialisations rather than the 'metal levels' approach of the past, according to cloud security vendor Zscaler.
Vendors have traditionally ranked channel partners on levels such as bronze, silver and gold, with the likes of Dell EMC even having a 'Titanium Black' level.
However, Jamie Farrelly, head of EMEA channel sales at Zscaler, told CRN that in the age of digital transformation and cloud, this system is less effective for vendors such as his firm.
"The way we look at the partner side of our business is very different to other vendors' channel programme. Our partner programme is something we have simplified," he said.
"We want to focus on the partners that can drive cloud transformations for clients - those with a managed service; service providers who already own the network and have the managed services security contracts within big customers."
Farrelly said the firm is moving more towards a specialist approach with its partner programme, a method the firm is calling "moving from metals to masters".
"We drive our partner programme by getting away from this typical 'metal approach', where you are either a bronze, silver or gold-level partner.
"We have two tiers in our partner programme: specialists and master specialists. Every single partner Zscaler works with has to have a very ingrained ability to drive managed services and own that customer's network or cloud infrastructure in a much deeper way than the traditional method of reselling the product."
Farrelly said Zscaler deliberately has a small ecosystem of partners, working to the concept of having "fewer bigger bets" with its channel strategy.
"We need partners that understand the move towards cloud applications and digital transformation. It is vital that we have partners that add value to customers who need to move their whole approach to the cloud," he added.
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