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January 14, 2016

Hortonworks Overhauls Partner Program

Hortonworks today unveiled an overhauled business partner program that it says will make it easier for software vendors, consultants, and resellers to engage with the Hadoop distributor in the burgeoning market for big data solutions.

With more than 1,600 partners around the world, Hortonworks (NASDAQ: HDP) has more partners than either employees or paying customers. But with demand for big data solutions expected to ramp up in the coming years, the Santa Clara, California company decided it was time to re-organize how its network of partners engages with customers and with itself.

Under the new Partnerworks program that Hortonworks is unveiling today at a partner conference in Miami, Florida, the partner program has been expanded from two categories (technology partners and resellers) to three categories: ISV/IHV (independent software and hardware vendors), consultants, and resellers.

The structure of the new program reflects the ongoing maturity of Hortonworks as a company and Hadoop as a platform and a business model. Chris Sullivan, who was brought on as Hortonworks’ vice president of global channels and alliances in October, briefed Datanami on the changes.

“The way we’ve supported them up to today has been a bit less mature than we’d like to have as we accelerate forward,” Sullivan says. “What we’ve done over the last several months is to start from ground up with evaluating the partners we have, the value propositions they require, and launching a program that we feel provides a robust opportunity for our partners to be enabled…and participate with us at a much closer proximity.

“That’s something that I think we do well on the technology side today,” he continues. “But we really want to make it easier and to make it more seamless to interact with us, to understand the value propositions, to determine with each partner, where do we fit in the Hortonworks community?”

Hortonworks will offer a variety of “tiers” for the categories, including community, silver, gold and platinum tiers. The tiers indicate to the customer the level of commitments each partner has made to the Hortonworks products, and their level of accomplishment. (The fee schedule for the tiers was not disclosed).

The addition of a community tier level in the Partnerworks program is a reflection of Hortonworks’ commitment to open source, Sullivan says.

“We have that community tier to stay very focused and true to the foundation of Hortonworks, the foundation of open source that we organize our business around, and how we go to market,” he says. “I really like that aspect of it. You come in, learn, get educated, then choose your path and elevate throughout the tiers as your business and our partnership matures.”

Partners can engage with the company via its Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP), which is the company’s flagship Hadoop distribution. They can also partner to work with Hortonworks Data Flow (HDF), the second product line for analyzing and acting upon data in motion, which it launched in September.

Chris Sullivan, Hortonworks' vice president of global channels and alliances

Chris Sullivan, Hortonworks’ vice president of global channels and alliances

Storage giant EMC (NYSE: NYSE) has become one of Hortonworks top partners since Hortonworks and EMC spinoff Pivotal partnered last year. “Hortonworks is a leading Hadoop partner for EMC, working lock step with our engineering and solutions teams to certify and integrate EMC’s Data Lake technologies, including Isilon and Elastic Cloud Storage [ECS], to run on Hortonworks Data Platform,” Christine Fraser, EMC’s senior vice president of technology alliances, says in a press release.

Another mega-vendor tying into Partnerworks is Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPE). another “Through our joint engineering efforts, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Hortonworks are working with customers to solve the most challenging data problems,” says Don Jones, vice president of ISV Alliances for Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

Sullivan, a former Marine who previously worked at VCE, the converged systems joint venture between EMC and Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO), says Partnerworks will have a positive impact on Hortonworks top and bottom lines. “There is no doubt that a robust ecosystem will help extend the opportunity and reach of Hortonworks as a company,” he says.

The company is currently in a quiet period and is expected to announce quarterly financial results in early February.

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