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Quest Software Revamps, Unifies Partner Program

Quest Software, a multiple winner of the Microsoft Global ISV Partner of the Year award, is rolling out a unified worldwide partner program for its community of 4,500 reseller, referral and distribution partners.

The Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based company announced the new Quest Partner Circle program during the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Los Angeles last week.

The main goal of the program is to pull together previously unrelated partner programs in a way designed to help individual Quest partners sell a broader portfolio of Quest's systems management products into a potential global market that the company estimates at $16.7 billion.

"Each of [our] partner communit[ies] has been treated differently on requirements, certification, training, enablement, deal registration and discounts," said Michael Sotnick, vice president of worldwide channels and alliances for Quest. "In addition, there was no clear way that a partner who was doing business in our data-protection business [for example] could see a path to selling other solutions. We talk about it internally as opening the aperture."

Quest, which had 2010 revenues of about $765 million and has more than 100,000 customers, has grown its business both organically and through the acquisitions of many companies over the years, including ScriptLogic, NetPro, Aelita Software, BakBone, MessageWise, Vintela, Provision Networks, PacketTrap Networks, PassGo, Vizioncore, Fast Lane, Foglight, Surgient, Wingra Technologies, Volcker Informatik AG and Toad.

Many of those acquisitions came with their own channel ecosystems. Over the last 18 months, Quest has been making an effort to build its channel organization and unify its various and sundry programs.

Sotnick himself is part of that build-out. The veteran channel executive, with recent channel experience at SAP Americas, also helped VERITAS integrate its global partner network just ahead of its acquisition by Symantec Corp. in 2005. Quest has added executive, sales, marketing and technical people in the last year-and-a-half to build its channel team to several hundred employees.

Quest has been gradually ramping up the percentage of indirect sales in its revenue mix from 38 percent in 2008 to 39 percent in 2009 to 40 percent in 2010 and seems poised to really start tipping the scales toward indirect revenues.

One example of that investment is the company's Market Development Funds for top-tier partners. "Our multi-million MDF has quadrupled over the last 18 months," says Christine McDermott, senior director of partner marketing for Quest. "It was in North America, and it's extended throughout the world."

The new Quest Partner Circle framework has three tiers: Elite, Premier and Registered. Registered and Premier partners will go through distribution sourcing, while Elite partners will have a mix of one-tier sourcing and distribution sourcing.

While Registered and Premier partners will sell across the product portfolio, Elite partners can earn their status in any of five areas. Those Elite areas include Quest Core, ScriptLogic, Data Protection, Server Virtualization and Public Sector.

Among the five Elite areas, the Quest Core group accounts for the most revenue by far, while the Server Virtualization group has the largest number of partners, Sotnick says.

A few of Quest's partner communities are not included in the first step of unifying the company's partner programs. "The announcement does not encapsulate our relationships with global systems integrators, MSPs and global alliance partners," he says.

Within the new program, partners can choose from 100 courses covering technical and sales training across seven solution specializations. The specializations are Windows Management, Database Management, Virtualization & Cloud, Data Protection, Application & Performance Monitoring, Identity & Access Management, and Migration.

The decision to launch at the Microsoft WPC reflects Quest's longstanding and deep bets on Microsoft technology and the Microsoft ecosystem. "Our biggest piece of business is in the Microsoft ecosystem," says Sotnick.

Quest was a silver sponsor of the WPC and a platinum sponsor of Microsoft's Office 365 part of the expo floor. Sotnick says launching at WPC was one of the most effective ways Quest could get the word out to its own partners, most of whom are Microsoft partners.

In a statement accompanying Quest's program announcement, Larry Orecklin, vice president of worldwide specialist sales in the Microsoft Enterprise Partner Group, said, "Microsoft recognizes the value of the new Quest Partner Circle program as an important step towards Quest's commitment to building a powerful ecosystem to support our mutual global customers."

Posted by Scott Bekker on July 18, 2011