Citrix to shed more partners

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Citrix is preparing to cut more partners from its reseller ranks this year as it sharpens its focus on tougher certification, increasing manufacturing and government sales and winning over Microsoft users.

Citrix is preparing to cut more partners from its reseller ranks this year as it sharpens its focus on tougher certification, increasing manufacturing and government sales and winning over Microsoft users.

Phil Dean-Jones, channel sales director at Citrix, said the software vendor would almost certainly lose partners this year that did not fit into its channel strategy.

However, he could not say or even guess how many of Citrix’s 220 resellers would be affected.

“We want to get the right partners covering the right spaces,” Dean-Jones said.

Also, Citrix was continuing to ask its resellers to jump through more certification hoops -- a move that was largely a result of Citrix’ assessment of customer needs and demands, he said.

Certain customers had even asked for resellers to have more expertise, Dean-Jones said.

A pre-requisite qualification -- the Citrix Certified Advisor (CCA) grade -- would no longer be sufficient in many cases. Many more would be expected to pass the Citrix Certified Enterprise Administrator test, which was now much harder, he said.

“Now, there’s an expectation that if you are going to be dealing in multiple technologies, such as we are now offering, you’ve got to be able to integrate those technologies and represent them at a much higher level,” Dean-Jones said.

Citrix had “average to good” reseller coverage in the government space but could do better. Also, manufacturing was a customer group that had traditionally been strong for Citrix but was currently performing below par, he said.

“There are organisations that are heavily Microsoft-oriented that we should be doing more with,” Dean-Jones said.

Its partners had the financial sector pretty well covered, though, he said.

“On balance, I think it’s a good thing [to have fewer partners],” he said. “If you have 500 resellers out there, it just becomes price-based.”

Citrix would stay committed to its channel despite its need to operate direct sales. Its more channel-focused strategy in recent years had netted substantial rewards for the vendor and was still doing so.

The company had netted “half a dozen” deals worth US$100,000 or more in 2003 and another “30 to 40” in 2004. “Locally, we’ve grown by 30 percent year on year,” he said.

Yet Citrix needed to ensure the right mix of partners and approaches to its channel, Dean-Jones said.

“We do all our business through channels but to be received by large corporate and government customers as a serious vendor, we have to be able to represent ourselves directly,” he said.

Citrix’ Advisory Rewards program introduced in 2004 had proved an effective way to help ensure resellers didn’t lose out to a strong direct sales team.

Advisory Rewards means Citrix resellers get paid a five to 10 percent premium -- on top of the usual rebate -- for helping customers towards a final decision to buy Citrix.

Citrix had just held a global conference in the US. In his keynote, Citrix chief executive Mark Templeton claimed that Advisor Rewards had paid out around $10 million to its partners.

The access infrastructure market that Citrix specialised in was growing 12 percent a year, compared with a general IT spend of five percent a year. Templeton also promised new Citrix products for partners to sell.

At the conference, Citrix also announced it had signed with SAP to promote a “joint business management solution” to SMBs.

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