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Trend Micro Revises Partner Program to Reward and Recruit Cloud-First Members

A new benefits structure is designed to establish parity between resellers of on-premises security products and the often younger, cloud-oriented partners Trend Micro needs to keep pace with accelerating adoption of cloud computing. By Rich Freeman

Trend Micro has revamped its partner program to reward existing members for selling cloud security services and to attract new members with cloud security expertise.

The new benefits, quietly put into place in January and only publicly highlighted now, are designed to establish parity between resellers of on-premises security products and the often younger, cloud-oriented partners Trend Micro needs to keep pace with one of the most important trends in IT.

“Their end customers are going cloud first. We want to make sure we support them and enable them to go there as well,” says Vice President of U.S. Channel Louise McEvoy of Trend Micro’s partners. 

Under a revised benefit structure now in effect, partners receive the same front-end discounts regardless of their level in the program. The new policy is designed to eliminate scenarios in which bigger, more established partners with higher membership status but little focus on cloud security can underbid lower-tier cloud security specialists.

“We want to have everyone at a level playing field,” says McEvoy, noting that higher-level partners continue to get more compensation for registering deals than lower-level ones.

That and other changes, she continues, reflect Trend Micro’s own strategic shift toward cloud security at a time when already swift cloud adoption is accelerating in response to the coronavirus pandemic and work-from-home computing. The company introduced a cloud-native file storage security solution last December and more recently unveiled an extended detection and response solution that incorporates telemetry from cloud-based platforms.

“Things have changed, and we want to make sure our partners change with us,” McEvoy says.

Recruiting net new cloud security partners is also a priority for the revamped program, which includes a track for “modern” born-in-the-cloud partners. McEvoy points to Cloud303, Zuggand, and other cloud service providers with deep knowledge of public cloud environments like Amazon Web Services as examples, noting that such firms have little patience for sales quotas and little interest in traditional perks like access to MDF. As a result, Trend Micro is letting them become partners without signing contracts or making revenue commitments.

“We’re looking at how can we be as flexible as possible with these partners,” McEvoy says, adding that not-for-resale licenses and one-on-one training are the biggest, and most appreciated, benefits such companies receive.

For all the emphasis in the new program on cloud-first partners though, McEvoy insists, on-premises security partners remain a valued part of Trend Micro’s channel. “They’re not losing anything,” she says, and will in fact gain from a host of other program modifications. Those include higher deal registration fees and faster recognition for meeting revenue targets. In the past, partners had to wait until January to rise a level in the program regardless of when they cleared the qualification bar.

“They could make a deal in the first quarter of one year and not recognize the benefit until the following year,” McEvoy says. “Now we review that every quarter.”

The new program also gives incumbent partners 10 extra points of margin, versus roughly five before. That change is designed to prevent low bidders from elbowing partners out of existing accounts. 

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