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Finding the right channel partner program: a guide for IT service providers

There’s no doubt that digital transformation continues to be a priority for organisations, and that Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are still realising the clear opportunities that the Cloud presents. This is leading many to explore channel partner programs.

When evaluating cloud partnerships, contrary to the belief of some of the large Cloud Service Providers (CSPs), there is more to Cloud than Microsoft 365, Azure, Amazon AWS etc.

Whilst these providers may play an important part in your overall Cloud strategy, they are not a Cloud strategy in themselves and to ensure that your chosen Cloud Service Provider and channel partner program is appropriate for both you and your customers you should ask yourself, what support will you receive? Are you simply gifting them your customers? Is it a two-way partnership?

Whether you’re an established MSP looking to partner with a different Cloud Service Provider, or even an IT company contemplating selling Cloud-based services, this guide will highlight the core areas that you should consider when evaluating any cloud partner and their channel partner program.

Service portfolio

channel partner program

Firstly, does the CSP hold a breadth of offerings that complement your existing product portfolio?

The demand for Cloud-based services is growing rapidly around Infrastructure as a Service, Disaster Recovery and Backup as a Service, so MSPs can benefit from partnering with an innovative Cloud provider.

To make the most of your relationship, you should partner with a CSP that is at the forefront of Cloud innovation, creating dedicated first-to-market solutions that your customers need, while also supporting you in selling these solutions.

Cloud partnership models

Another area to evaluate is the different models that service providers offer and how these complement your business priorities. For example, for some MSPs, it’s about earning recurring revenue with minimal customer contact, so a referral partnership may be more appropriate. For others, they may want to retain full control over the customer and simply use a Cloud Service Provider as an extension of their team.

It’s important to decide what relationship and involvement you would like from your chosen CSP, and what Channel Partner Program is most appropriate and profitable for your business long-term.


One of the most basic factors to consider is the experience of the Cloud provider and how long they have held tenure within the industry. The concept of the Cloud is not new, and the providers that have helped shape the industry into what it is today will have gained priceless information that they can pass on to both you and your customers.

cloud service portfolio

Another factor to consider is supplier relationships as a strong CSP should invest in these for the benefit of its partners. For example, virtualDCS is proud to be classed as a leading Veeam solutions provider and to be the first UK VCSP to be recognised as a Veeam approved partner.

To achieve this status, virtualDCS undertook a rigorous audit by Veeam itself, where the team, its solutions and its Veeam channel partner program were audited.

Achieving the Veeam VCSP competency is the ultimate accreditation for Veeam Cloud Service Providers and enables our partners to feel assured that virtualDCS has the highest levels of skills, knowledge, and experience around Veeam solutions and that we can pass this knowledge to our partners.

Sales and technical support

It’s also important to consider the tools that service providers offer to help with onboarding, customer management and reaching new prospects. Does the provider have a partner portal with sales and marketing material? Do they offer a unique value proposition to help your sales team?

Do they offer sales training, and ultimately empower your organisation to grow? Will their team be on-hand to help with new opportunities or to offer solution guidance? Each of these is essential to a successful MSP offering and you should have confidence that your CSP will be a true partner and support you across your customer lifecycle.

CSP focus

You should also consider the overall focus of the partnering company, are they a channel-first organisation that puts their partners as a priority, or are they also targeting end-users? What are the chances of you being up against your CSP for an end-user deal, or a customer leaving your contract and going directly to the source?

Performance and compliance

Security and compliance considerations will always be at the top of your customer’s ‘must list’, so your chosen CSP should be able to meet these requirements. How would the platform fare against a Ransomware or DDOS attack? Where are the CSPs platforms based? Are they privy to international legalities? What Service Level Agreements do they have in place? All of these are questions you should consider when selecting the right service provider to partner with.

Pricing and flexibility 

cloud service provider

To help your sales team grow, your chosen CSP should provide a straightforward pricing structure that is both easy to understand and competitive to others within the industry. Scalability and flexibility are also important with a pay for what you use resource approach.

How quickly can a solution be quoted, does the partner have to approve pricing?

For ease, virtualDCS has created a series of pricing tools where costs can be calculated in minutes.


The above list highlights a range of considerations for your organisation when researching a channel partner program, and although there may be additional factors to discuss that are more specific to your requirements, this guide will help you to assess the surface value of each potential CSP.

For more information on the virtualDCS channel partner program, the white-labelled services we provide or our team, simply email or call +44 (0) 3453 888 327.

To sign up to our channel partner program via our partner portal.

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