Since joining Red Hat in 2006, Mark Enzweiler has been instrumental in growing the Red Hat partner ecosystem to where it is today. By establishing and leading a global channel strategy, Mark’s team has helped partners more efficiently sell and deliver complete customer solutions using Red Hat’s open hybrid cloud portfolio.
Now, Mark is retiring as senior vice president of Global Partners & Alliances after 15 years of leadership. Read on to hear more from Mark on his experiences with Red Hat partners over the years.
How did you get started in the technology industry?
Mark: I first joined IBM in 1980, and then in 1983 took an assignment on a small team tasked with recruiting partners for IBM’s Personal Computer business. Our goal was to set up a program for partners to sell products in a low-touch model, which was a relatively new concept at the time. Over time we incorporated other products such as IBM servers, storage and more to continue expanding the business and grow our partnerships. I went on to spend 25 years at IBM in various partner leadership roles to help build and sell solutions through the partner ecosystem across North America, Europe and Latin America. We were able to significantly scale our business with partners and establish a foundation for a robust partner ecosystem. This is where I came to appreciate partners as true business drivers and market makers in the technology space.
What moments stand out in your 15 years at Red Hat?
Mark: When I came to Red Hat in 2006 there were only two colleagues focused on partners. Red Hat was still in the early stages of building its partner ecosystem. We had some buy-in from our senior leadership who understood the value and opportunities to scale with partners, but we had to educate and enable the field to engage with partners throughout the selling process. The technology industry is really fueled by partnerships, so in order to be successful, it is critical to build strong relationships with partners and establish a working model to support partner business. This comes with growing pains, of course, which I witnessed at IBM.
However, as I think back to that time, what stands out to me the most in those early years is the unwavering commitment from our partners. Keep in mind that partners are often the gateway to expanding existing customers and finding new ones. They have intimate customer relationships and a deep understanding of what customers want and need to achieve their business goals. Red Hat partners quickly recognized the power of open source and how this could unlock new opportunities. Thanks to that early buy-in from partners, the ecosystem has become a significant growth engine for Red Hat and our customers. We’ve invested in helping partners continue to build skills around Red Hat’s open hybrid cloud portfolio, established go-to-market strategies with partners and developed joint solutions. Now, a significant portion of our business is through partners.
How have you seen the Red Hat partner ecosystem change and evolve?
Mark: When open hybrid cloud first came onto the scene years ago, Red Hat partners were some of the earliest adopters. They jumped at the opportunity to enhance their skills and resources to support open hybrid cloud with Red Hat. Prior to that our partners were primarily focused on selling product subscriptions and services, but they have since embraced the full value of Red Hat’s offerings and shifted to build services and practices around Red Hat technology. Partners have become engaged as active members in the open source community and concentrated efforts to build on top of Red Hat platforms in order to deliver complete customer solutions across cloud environments.
When it comes to change, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge a major milestone for Red Hat and our partners, which came in 2018 with the IBM acquisition announcement. The partner ecosystem has always been at the center of Red Hat’s success, so we and IBM were adamant about preserving neutrality and independence for partners. Since the acquisition, we have not only maintained this commitment, but our partners have continued to scale and accelerate. I am so proud of the dedication and loyalty our partners have demonstrated over the years, especially in times of change or uncertainty. I truly believe that we are better together.
What words of advice do you have for partners going into 2022?
Mark: Stay the course. Partners have always been, and will continue to be, key multipliers for Red Hat. We know that our long-term success depends on partners, and in the spirit of openness, we want to hear from all of our partners. I believe that Red Hat’s success with partners is founded on inherent transparency and honesty in our partner relationships. We value partner insights and input in guiding our strategy, so I encourage our partners to continue to communicate openly with Red Hat in order to build on that momentum together.
From a technology perspective, this is a very exciting time for Red Hat partners. From managed cloud services to automation to edge computing, the sky's the limit on where we can go from here. Partners should continue to build skills to support these emerging markets and nurture their existing relationship with Red Hat to focus on key solutions. The Red Hat partner ecosystem offers a robust network of capabilities and a diverse set of experts - tap into this! Multi-partner collaborations offer a deeper and more holistic approach to solving customer problems, and I feel this will be essential in delivering customer-centricity across solution offerings and services.
All in all, I have nothing but pride and confidence in Red Hat partners. Thank you to all of our partners for the constant support, dedication and collaboration. I will never forget our time together.
About the author
Red Hat is the world’s leading provider of enterprise open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to deliver reliable and high-performing Linux, hybrid cloud, container, and Kubernetes technologies.