Here's a sample of what solutions providers like and dislike about some of their vendor/partners - and where they see room for improvement.
Microsoft"Microsoft has one of the most, if not the most, feature-filled and effective partnership programs a software vendor can offer."
"Microsoft has just changed the partnership model and made it a lot harder to achieve the top rating (and so receive higher in-house free software licenses) than used to be the case. Their new Gold Partner rating requires seven MCSEs all at Win2K certification level. ... Get a grip!"
"Microsoft has been a great partner for us over the years. They do not poach on our business and are truly interested in our success as a means for them to be successful. This commitment is reiterated regularly from the highest levels (Gates and Ballmer)."
"Microsoft's alliance program ... is in a coma. Microsoft will increasingly compete for the best service revenues through their Consulting group, leaving the less desirable business for their 'partners.' "
"If there's a better vendor/partner, show me."
IBM "We are IBM Partners. Yet we have evidence of IBM managers advising our clients not to purchase our IBM-based products. We have lost significant sales as a result of this."
"Right now, IBM is very partner-friendly."
"Great partnering program. IBM assigned rep to represent us in the company. It provided training rebates to reduce costs—and even a mobile classroom, which it brought to our remote location. Rebates and marketing funds are usable and go through your rep rather than an unknown body in the company! Overall, IBM offers one of the better partnering programs - which is a recent revamp from its old policies!"
Computer Associates "Getting technical support can take many hours, even in a 'critical' situation."
"Our Computer Associates sales team is the best. ... Keeping up on new product, training and support issues is hard enough, but when you have a vendor that keeps in contact with you, it makes it easier. Other companies can learn from ... CA."
Cisco "Cisco has the best partner support. Bravo!"
Compaq "Compaq has made it virtually impossible for me to make any money selling its products, squeezing me into a 3 to 6 percent margin. Clearly, the expectation that I am to make money off of selling my services is misplaced. My services sell no matter what hardware I recommend. For Compaq to position me, and the thousands of smaller systems integrators, so that I cannot make money from selling their products, is a mistake."
Novell "Novell just sent out the renewal for next year. They are now charging for Gold and Platinum partners. Frankly, besides NFR SW, Gold doesn't get much. At a time in which they need resellers, I am leaving them. I'm not paying $1,000 for a virtually nonexistent reseller program. If I don't have the NFRs, they lose my mind share, as well. Bye-bye, Novell. ... Gold for years, a CNE personally for 10."
Sun Microsystems "Sun is going to the Dell model and drying up the channel. Often, leads we get from Sun are sold direct from Sun with their dot-com program where the customer gets 50 percent off, direct from Sun. It kills our lead. However, they still supply us with funds for marketing, and the leads get us in as consultants, which is our main business."