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Sponsored by SUSE: Spotlight on Rachel Cassidy - Driving Partner Opportunities and Customer Engagement for Better Business

Posted by B.A. Beatty on Oct 12, 2020 7:08:13 PM

Rachel Cassidy is the Senior Vice President of Global Channel and Cloud at SUSE. We talked about how collaborative relationships enable SUSE, their partners and their customers to innovate, differentiate themselves and drive business. Read on for the details!

Thanks for chatting with us, Rachel. Let’s start with you. How did you get started in the tech industry?

I started in technology with a strong interest in computer science in high school. I took a job at Reuters, working on a digital currency think tank offering. Reuters sponsored a part-time master’s degree at NYU, where I decided I wanted a more formal technology-plus-business focus. I transferred to Georgia Tech’s Master of Science program. Since then, I have held many senior-level positions at various technology companies.

In 2006, I joined Red Hat, where I embraced open source. In 2012, I was approached to define and create Red Hat's new global partner strategy and enablement program. In 2015, my charter was expanded to focus and grow Red Hat's Partner ecosystem. We enhanced enablement tools to empower Red Hat portfolio sales and delivery while aligning with internal presales and delivery associates.

Now, you’re the Senior Vice President, Global Channel and Cloud at SUSE. Tell us more about your role and what a typical day looks like. 

My role is to define, build and lead our global channel and cloud business as a major contributor to SUSE’s go-to-market strategy and engine for growth. Also, I’m trying to foster a co-sell motion in the field, as well as a focus on the larger partner ecosystem, creating impactful and relevant solutions that the full ecosystem can find value in.

We have a significant European footprint, and my day starts quite early, sometimes 4 a.m. – not the norm, but critical as we align our strategies covering multiple time zones. In this virtual world, we have adapted to have strategic, whiteboard and collaboration sessions, both internally as well as with our partners and customers. It’s harder not to have face-to-face interaction, especially when building new relationships. Still, we’ve found the way and continue to get creative with remote meetings and sessions across multiple time zones. I try to have a mix of internal stakeholder sessions and put a great deal of thought into how we can grow, provide value and find our ‘blue ocean’ that allows ourselves and our partners to differentiate and innovate together.

The Why SUSE? statistics on your website speak for themselves, but from your point of view, how do SUSE solutions and services enable your customers to innovate and drive business?

One of the most important aspects of bringing together solutions that meet customers’ needs is having a solid, reliable and available stack that is validated and flexible. We’re focused on joining with our partners to create solutions that customers demand, driven by workload. Market data is used to confirm demand exists for the solution and, of course, the solutions must align with overall SUSE strategic initiatives and goals. These modular, integrated, multi-partner SUSE One Partner Solution Stacks provide an optimized solution offering with a focus on solving our customers’ business and technical challenges. By working with partners in this way, we drive relationships based on value and trust.

We continue to be open and agnostic in our way of offering a broad portfolio of products that takes and combines industry-leading solutions across core, edge and cloud, but not locking anyone in because that can limit their ability to innovate.

Our customers need the best possible infrastructure, services and support. That’s where open source and SUSE shine. We’re an orchestrator of the power of many to deliver the most innovative open source solutions in the world.

I’m interested in hearing about the SUSE One Partner Program. Will you speak to what makes this program so valuable for you and your partners?

Our new SUSE One Partner Program encompasses an approach to align with our partners regardless of legacy route, with support based on the new solutions and services they are building for our mutual customer’s digital transformation. This includes traditional IHVs, ISVs, SIs, Channel, VARs, Distributors, CSPs, and MSPs. We’re seeing these partners shift and align to create hybrid cloud and as-a-service offerings.

Our previous program was organized around route to market and didn’t reflect what’s occurring in the market. Plus, to be customer-focused, one company alone can’t always meet the challenges that organizations face today. Partnerships are crucial and are changing and becoming more collaborative, and so are we. This enables us to expand our relationships and help partners profitably grow their businesses. 

We’ve simplified how we do business with our partners. In May, we launched a new partner portal focused on helping partners easily access training and marketing content. We launched a new Learning Management System in June. And we simplified the many tier names across all siloed programs into three tiers: Silver (which is the base level), Gold and Platinum.  

We’re modernizing and evolving current offerings. We’ve updated our Deal Registration program to deliver better value to our partners and have seen a tremendous increase in activity during the first month of its launch! We also introduced six specializations ­– INNOVATE, BUILD, SELL, MANAGE, SERVICE and TRAIN – that allow partners more flexibility in how they work and go to market with SUSE products and services. Our goal is to enable our partners to build meaningful solutions, services and practices that allow them to grow and accelerate their offerings powered by SUSE. SUSE One Partner Solution Stacks further accelerate growth across our partner ecosystem by offering our customers validated, configurable and customized solutions that are use case driven, solving our customer’s challenges of today.

Let’s shift to the relationship between Tech Data and SUSE. What makes it so successful?

SUSE and Tech Data have a strong relationship of trust. Tech Data has fast response times on quotes and orders, and we’re able to get escalations resolved quickly. Our relationship is so strong that we can call management late at night at the end of quarter and process last-second orders with last-minute notice.

How does this relationship drive progress in the channel?

We are particularly excited about our enhanced Deal Registration program, which is a key benefit for SELL partners who invest in SUSE to achieve Gold or Platinum tiers and transact through a distributor. The reward has shifted to an up-front discount with protection for the approved partner. Co-sell benefits to help drive value and trusted relationships will also be rolling out. This is a big change for us, and our hope is it will create an even stronger strategic relationship where we are able to incent our partners and foster collaboration and co-sell motions for great impact and growth for all.

Rachel, is there anything we haven’t covered or something you’d like to add?

Partners are critical to our growth and scale. My goal is to continue to build and transform our relationships, offerings, incentives and solutions to help us best serve our customers in these changing and dynamic times. Our focus, both for our partners and customers alike, is to help simplify, modernize, and accelerate across everything we do.

Thanks for your time today!

About the Author

B.A. Beatty is a copywriter for Tech Data Agency. She specializes in B2B marketing, research and content creation. When she clocks out, you can find her listening to music, hanging out with friends and raising her daughters.


Tags: Cloud, IT Partner for Cloud, Partnership, Customer Engagement