COVID-19 Relief: Microsoft, Dell, IBM, HP, HPE, More

Call it a special COVID-19 relief edition of our monthly new and changing channel programs update.

Most of the 12 snippets you’re about to read involve pandemic relief packages from some of the biggest names in the channel.

Take IBM, for instance. Big Blue’s response measures address its partner program, competencies, cloud and artificial intelligence. And IBM’s rivals are getting in on the act as well. Dell Technologies is offering cash-flow assistance, as well as on-demand training and certification opportunities.

Keep up with the latest developments in how the channel is supporting partners and customers during the COVID-19 crisis.

But that’s not all from the big IT vendors. Cisco, too, is giving its partners and customers a lifeline. Cisco’s Business Resiliency Program, offered through Cisco Capital, includes $2.5 billion and a 90-day payment holiday.

If COVID-19 relief isn’t your thing, don’t worry. We will update you on Poly’s new partner program. The company says it combines the best of the old Polycom and Plantronics programs under one umbrella. And ConnectWise introduced a new cybersecurity training program for partners that targets owners, sales pros and engineers.

We lined up a dozen descriptions of new and changing channel programs in the gallery below. And remember, you can always keep up on the latest channel-program happenings by visiting our page dedicated to the topic. Our sister site, Channel Futures, has one too.

If you missed our gallery dedicated to channel program changes in March, it’s here!

Salesforce's Woodson Martin

Poly's new partner program aims to combine the best of the old Polycom and Plantronics programs into one. Channel boss Nick Tidd told us the program helps Poly measure its partners on more than just revenue.

Partners get a new, unified portal with real-time access to all assets, training, tools and content. The new program brings together more than 15,000 global Plantronics and Polycom partners.

There is a lot more to know about it.
Edify's Ashley Johnson

Microsoft's new incentives and adjustments to its partner program reflect partner and customer feedback related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

For starters, there's a new Teams Online Services Usage M365 incentive. It pays out at the 15% milestone for all qualified enhancements for non-FastTrack partners. There's also a new incentive payout at the lowest qualified entitlement level for FastTrack partners. These incentives run from April 1-Sept. 30.

Then there's a new competency extension. Partners with competency anniversary dates between Jan. 1 and June 30 get those extended through their next anniversary date in 2021.

Learn more about these incentives and several changes to Azure Expert MSP extensions.
IBM Executives April 2020

Changes are afoot at Lenovo's Data Center Group. The sector introduced a new partner program on April 1.

Steve Biondi is head of partnerships and channels at Lenovo DCG. He said there weren't "substantive growth elements" in the program after Lenovo acquired IBM's x86 server business. For example, there wasn't a compelling enough reason for partners to pursue an elevation in tier status. Silver partners weren't dying to become gold partners, and gold partners to go platinum and so on, he said. So the company put in place strong growth objectives in terms of skills, education and partner certifications.

Read more about the changes in our Q&A with Biondi.

Meantime, Lenovo also announced support for partners through a new partner stimulus package. The program includes extending the terms of the Lenovo Partner Financing Program. It also features a new work-from-home bundle around a device-as-a-service offer. 

But that's not all.

IBM Executives April 2020

HP jumped into the COVID-19 relief fray with some initiatives of its own. The short-term programs address financial services and leasing options for end customers. And partners get incentives.

For one, the HP Integrated Financial Solutions group is working with finance partners on multiple financial and asset life-cycle options. The company also plans an extension of deadlines for submitting proof of performance and reporting.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg.
IBM Executives April 2020

Just add a letter to HP and you get HPE. Hewlett Packard Enterprise Financial Services is offering COVID-19 relief as well, to the tune of $2 billion.

The money aims to help customers buy new technology today, which benefits the partners who serve them as well. Customers will pay only 1% of the total contract value each month for the first eight months. So that means they are deferring more than 90% of the cost until next year.

Read more about HPE's relief program.
Datapipe's Robb Allen
High Wire Networks

High Wire Networks has a new agreement with Synnex to distribute its Overwatch managed security platform. The product is a good fit for underserved small and medium businesses, High Wire said.

High Wire just unveiled Overwatch 24/7, the cornerstone of the Overwatch managed security platform, in February. The company says the AI-driven security offer "eliminates the noise" of traditional SIEM services. This means analysts see only important alerts.

Learn more about the distribution partnership.
Exclusive Networks' Nigel Gilhepsy

Technology service providers can participate in ConnectWise's new cybersecurity training and education program. ConnectWise Certify is a dual track certification program that targets owners, sales pros and engineers at technology service provider companies.

And it's all free. The idea is to make sure the whole team is aligned on cybersecurity knowledge. ConnectWise encourages the groups to share their experience and expertise so SMB clients are that much more knowledgeable.

No doubt you want to learn more about the program.
Exclusive Networks' Nigel Gilhepsy
Tech Data

Tech Data's new online coaching and mentoring community is for partners in the U.S. and Canada. It's called "Tech Data Coaches" because the program consists of more than 70 coaches from the distributor's business.

The experts advise partner on business topics and help refine their personal and professional skills. Subjects include marketing, sales, business development and more. And some coaches have vertical industry knowledge to support sales in health care, public sector, retail and more.

Get more information on how it works and how to participate.
Exclusive Networks' Nigel Gilhepsy

Back now to COVID-19 relief, where Cisco got into the game. Cisco Capital's new Business Resiliency Program offers money to support businesses facing pandemic-related challenges.

The program includes $2.5 billion for customers and partners, and features an upfront, 90-day payment holiday. Customers also can defer 95% of the cost of a new product or service until 2021.

The new payment program is designed to promote business continuity during this unprecedented time. Get the inside scoop on how you can take advantage.
Lenovo's Steve Biondi

AppSmart's COVID-19 relief program supports partners' business operations as they navigate the pandemic. Those resources include free access to telemedicine services for a year and individual HR consulting sessions with a top AppSmart exec. You can also get individual business consulting sessions with the company's VP of cloud services.

Looking for discounts? You can get them on remote workforce productivity bundles.

Go here for a list of other business resources from AppSmart during the pandemic.
Kudelski Security's Ernie Anderson
Dell Technologies

Dell's COVID-19 relief efforts include cash-flow assistance and on-demand training and certification for partners. 

Did we have you at "cash flow"? Because that's probably of most interest to the channel community. Dell said it will provide a one-time cash payout for up to 50% of partner MDF and business development fund balances. It can be used toward future marketing activities. Partners must apply by June 20.

Be sure to check out the rest of Dell's relief program.
Lenovo's Steve Biondi

Not to be outdone by its tech giant counterparts, IBM's pandemic relief addresses its partner program, competencies, cloud and AI, and new go-to-market models.

For one, IBM is extending the PartnerWorld program revalidation and certification grace period. It's now from May 5, 2020, to Jan. 1, 2021. Partners are guaranteed to remain at their program tier level for the remainder of the year. In addition, IBM is extending the use of eligible partners' co-marketing funds. The company also added millions of dollars in incentives for distributors and specialty partners globally.

But those are just a few parts of the relief plan. Here are the rest.

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