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My goal is to build a profitable partner ecosystem, as we focus on growing the pipeline

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In an exclusive interaction with Express Computer, Ash Vijay, Vice President, Global Partnerships, Redis highlights the key trends in the partner community, the rising opportunities for channel partners in India, and the major initiatives that Redis has taken as a part of its channel strategy

Some edited excerpts:

-Please tell us about Redis, and the services that you offer to clients

Redis is a real-time data platform and Redis Enterprise which is a product that we sell today offers a lot of value over the open-source product. It’s self-managed and offers what we call the five nines availability, which is 99.999 per cent availability, scaling up, and scaling down. It allows a lot of flexibility when it comes to applications. Redis Enterprise is now getting a huge spike when it comes to Fortune 500 enterprise companies that started to use it as they build out their own enterprise grid applications.

-How are channel partners playing an important role in Redis’ business growth?

Redis has grown phenomenally. We have over 6 million users of our open-source database. Fortune 500 companies and almost all the developers are using open source and a lot of our enterprise products as well. Our partners are seeing a lot of uptick in Redis deployments because customers are looking for great products and solutions.

We live in the world of instant gratification nowadays and we do not like our applications to crash. We do not want things to slow down and Redis plays a very key role here. We’ve started to see a huge uptick among our SI’s who have started to leverage Redis Enterprise as they build applications and we’ve also started seeing ISVs who are building solutions on top of Redis. There are a lot of different verticals in which we have seen value. We have noticed the uptick has been so much in the last year. We have over 200 channel partners now, and when I say channel, I’m loosely saying it’s across the board: resellers, distributors, value-added resellers, and SIs.

We wanted to make sure that there is a method to the madness. We wanted to have a program where we can certify our partners so the customer can have a level of comfort. We also want to make sure that we give them a model in which they can make money as well as think about scaling and building an ecosystem around the Redis platform.

At the same time, we wanted to do things like marketing development funds and do joint webinars to help the partners as well. It shouldn’t just be that the partners are certified, they can just go ahead and sell our products to our end customers. We wanted to make sure that they grow a pipeline and that they see the value of building an ecosystem. This is very important for me. I come from the world of Microsoft, which has a very strong partner ecosystem so building a business around a partner ecosystem is very important for me. Having spent 10-plus years at Microsoft, these are some things that are instilled in me and I’m trying to do that here at Redis.

-Could you share some of the major initiatives that Redis has taken as a part of its channel strategy?

Talking about the upcoming projects in this fiscal year as part of our new channel program. We’ve launched a brand-new channel program this year, and put together a very simplified clearing system within this program. My goal is very simple, whenever I design a channel program, it should be simple enough for a channel partner to look at it and say this is how I can make money. It should be something that is repeatable. They should take it to different customers and build an ecosystem around Redis. It should also be scalable. 

I follow the mantra of repeatability, scalability, and simplicity. A partner previously would come to us and say that they want to sign a contract and do business. Our programs were very high level and that became more and more complex as we had over 200 partners signing up. We really simplified our program. It’s a very improved tiering model and we have two levels.

One is the community and the other is the enterprise. This is directly for our Redis Enterprise product. We offer a very simple and straight-up discounting model which allows a partner to do what they want. If a partner wants to be a referral partner or a reseller, they can just work off a margin. If a partner wants to focus more on implementations or building solutions, we have other creative ways in which we give them discounts so they can also build a business on that.

The second big bucket of changes that we have done is that we have built out a partner enablement system. So this involves everything from technical training to sales training to certification. But we’ve put together an end-to-end curriculum. We have different training levels such as 100, 200, 300, and 400 levels of training that the partners can go through. They will not only be Redis certified, but we feel very comfortable when our partners go to end customers to sell our products. 

Our solutions when they sit in the cloud, the layer of complexity becomes more, because customers tend to ask questions. For example, if it’s AWS, how does Redis work with Amazon SageMaker or Amazon S3. All these different questions start coming on the new services which these cloud providers are rolling out every single day. We want to make sure that our partners understand the value proposition of Redis on all these different services.

The message is consistent with what we launch and what these partners are doing as well. I call it under the optimised partner enablement umbrella where we train them fully on the technical and sales sides so they can focus not only on the overall architecture but also on the sales pipeline.

And the third bucket is the overall benefits. They get to be involved with a six million-strong open-source user community. There’s a lot of community engagement which they get with a bunch of other partners as well. We do a lot of joint partner marketing events now and these partners can get marketing funds from us where to do joint partner marketing and brand events as well. We have started seeing a lot of partners, especially in India, and in verticals such as financial, retail, and startups who are starting to build a lot of solutions. And these partners are starting to rely on Redis and do a lot of joint events with us there.

-What are some of the biggest emerging opportunities for channel partners in India with respect to Redis products?

India is very interesting, and what makes India very interesting, especially for Redis, is this is the first time I’m working in a software company where the revenue from APAC is a lot higher than even all of EMEA. The reason is the strong developer community in India and Redis is a very strong developer product so we are starting to see its value. If you look at our recent RedisDays event in India, the event got sold out and there were people waiting outside. That’s the kind of popularity that we have seen in India. The demand for customers, partners, and single individual developers who want to rely on Redis is extremely high.

We want to make sure that they get to play around with the latest and greatest products. The economy is slowing down a little bit and everyone is wondering where the economy is going to go. We saw some of the things which came out in the budget, especially there are some concerns. There’s a lot more tightening of purses that is happening now which did not happen in the last few years. When customers think about how they want to invest and what projects they want to invest in in the future. If I am a C-level leader, I’m looking for what is the immediate ROI that I will get from my project. 

Partners have to be very clearly able to articulate the value of whatever solutions they’re selling to end customers and this is where Redis plays a key role. There are some of the things which we talked about that allow customers to see a lot of optimisations on a lot of their projects. Most of the customers who deploy our solutions have noticed very clear savings in dollars and also a better performance of applications which have led to an increase in savings of time, revenue, profitability, etc.

We want to make sure that partners are also aware of all these different things. I think the channel is going to be very clearly focused on value-added projects, especially in the next fiscal year. It needs to be with a lens of cost optimisation and Redis will play a key role there. The partners are also going to look for how they can make money and so a very robust partner program that can help them not only to bring a pipeline of business but also make money with the ISV like Redis is going to be very beneficial for them.

-What are the top tech trends that your partner community should be betting on and why?

Tech trends will come and go. What is ChatGPT today might be something else tomorrow. There are a lot of very interesting tech trends and I’m not going to say one is more important than the other because it’s all cyclical. What I can say is that we have seen a bigger focus on vertical solutions in businesses lately, especially from our channel partners. Redis has noticed that we do really well in a lot of these vertical solutions as well.

If I am a channel partner then I would probably be planning on aligning in some form or the other in very specialised verticals such as healthcare, financial services, retail, and helping digital natives as they’re building the solutions. This level of specialisation is going to become key and it’s going to be more prevalent as we go into the next fiscal year. The other key thing which I expect to see is going to be cost optimisation. I know it’s not a tech trend, but it’s going to be a big business trend going forward. These are the two key things that I think partners are going to focus on as they build their business this next fiscal year.

-Which major areas would you like the channel partners to work on to achieve desired business results?

Redis is very strong on-premises and in the cloud, but one of the things we have noticed is customers and partners who build their solutions in the cloud are able to go to market a lot faster. There are some verticals like finance, where you can’t really build a lot in the cloud. If you ask me a question outside of what kind of verticals like finance, retail, and digital natives, the cloud is going to be key. India is a market in which the cloud has taken off phenomenally over the last few years and the expected growth from the cloud companies is huge compared to what I’ve seen before. I know Amazon, Microsoft and Google are investing. And all these cloud providers are also signing huge commitment deals with a lot of these big strategic companies in India. But also a lot of the smaller SaaS companies are signing big commitments with the cloud providers apart from the Tata’s or Reliance’s. 

When you talk about the cloud the other big investment these partners need to think about is building a motion around these cloud marketplaces and leveraging ISVs like Redis so they can monetise the opportunity. Building joint solutions and putting them on cloud marketplaces will really help partners burn down these commitments, which means that the customer does not have to look for a budget to fund a new project or get new POs approved. All of those are automatically taken care of when you go through these cloud marketplaces. This is going to be another big trend that I see upcoming during this fiscal year as well.

-What is your channel roadmap for partners in 2023?

2023 is a year of stabilisation for me. 2022 was a year of change. We wanted to build a robust partner program, which we have done. Now this year, the goal is to stabilise it. My goal is to build a partner ecosystem where the partners make as much money as Redis can as we both focus on growing the pipeline. I want to provide that stability and that is going to be the key thing. Hence, a very robust and lucrative incentive model will be in place for a lot of our partners.

The second thing is that I want to make sure that these partners continue to grow, build on their certifications, and build a Redis ecosystem as part of their book of business. I’m going to be pushing a lot of the partners to have web pages dedicated to Redis and sharing customer wins. This will allow them to do programs like webinars with customers and joint marketing with Redis and the customers. These things are all going to be key for me. 

The goal for this year is to leverage the program we have built and go out to market. I always encourage my team also to be learning as we do this. Being a growing company, we want to be flexible to change. If we see certain things in the business where partners find it as a blocker to growing their business, we want to make sure that we address it too. We leave a little bit of a buffer for changes, but the goal is to keep the majority of the program as stable as possible and so it can be as successful as possible for partners.

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