I recently sat down with Kimason Brown, Global Partner Programs Manager for Red Hat. With 25 years of channel experience and a primary focus on productivity tools for partners, Brown had great insights to share.

Here are just a few highlights from our interview or you can watch the video below.

Q: How Has the Channel Changed?

A: Channel Partners need timely tools and information much more so than ever before. And it’s no longer just traditional sales tools, scripts and brochures. Partners need far more today as they and their customers are savvier. Partners need to actively market now and materials must be customized to their levels of expertise.

For example, Red Hat Premier Partners are very strategic and need materials that speak at a high-level of expertise. Our Advanced Partners are hardworking but not quite as high-level as Premier Partners. They face a lot of competition and need to differentiate themselves. Then you have the Entry-Level-Ready Partners, who are hungry but don’t have the tools and resources of more established Partners. They depend more on us to provide what they need. And we would rather deliver those tools and materials and allow them to focus on selling instead of struggling to market on their own.

Q: How Has Red Hat’s Relationship With Partners Changed?

A: Red Hat’s Channel Partner relationships have changed in that we’re more dependent on our Partners. They are not just Red Hat resellers. They are true Partners. It’s key for us to work with them on enablement and education to understand our products, but also understanding our customers. Our products are different. We’re not just a widget. Open Source is unique and it allows a lot of things to happen across the board and opens many opportunities and possibilities. Partners have to understand how our products extend capabilities for the customer and market to all of those possibilities.

Red Hat doesn’t really test out tools and programs on its Partners. It does its due diligence and then provides truly valuable tools to Partners like Zift Solutions. We’re committed to our Partners. There is no long line for help, assistance or account management for our Partners. If Partners need help or input, even from the executive level, they can get that very easily. It’s a great time to be a Red Hat Channel Partner.

Q: What Trends Are You Seeing In The Channel?

A: The Channel is like the music business in that it changes on a daily basis. I was around when everyone was a VAR (Value Added Reseller). Then people decided that we can’t just have somebody that supplies things, we need somebody to handle the services, someone else to handle implementation and someone else to evaluate the customer to determine what they really need. I’ve seen the evolution of System Integrators and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs). The fact is, there are many more needs that are outsourced now, which has spurred the growth of Hybrid Partners, such as Distributors and High-Volume Partners, all of which have unique needs and new ways of going after business.

To learn more, watch the full video of our interview with Kimason below. This is the first of a new series of videos with channel executives that we will be launching soon called Channel Visions. If you are interested in participating in the series, do not hesitate to let us know.