In my opinion, one of the weakest points in the Magento ecosystem is in the way the partner program is build-up. At the beginning of this month I went to Los Angeles to attend the Magento Imagine conference, and I was eager to find out if, and how, Magento Inc. was going to improve the parter program. But in order to understand the (need for) improvements, let me first explain how the current program came to be and the problems it currently creates.
If you’re already fully aware of the partner program and it’s issues, just skip to the ‘solutions’ section below.
The current partner program
In the early days (just a couple of years ago) the Magento partner program was started with the goal to spread and promote the platform. Companies applied for the partner program and chose a partner level (first Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze, now Enterprise, Professional and Community). The difference between the different levels being the amount of money you were willing to pay for the partnership and the amount of revenue (in commercial licenses) you dedicated yourself to. As you install a partership program, you want to be selective and not call everyone a partner. A great and easy way to select partners on ‘seriousness’ is to ask money for the partnership.
The great thing about money is that it works pretty good (until a certain level) as a differentiator. Companies that just started out with Magento would start with a lower partner level, and when they get more experienced and certain about their choice for Magento, they would later on switch (and pay) for a higher partner level. And from an end-user point-of-view: when there are only one or two Magento partners in the neighborhood, chances are they will have a lot more experience wit Magento then companies who don’t carry the partner label. The current program allows Magento Inc. to differentiate between partner levels, without going through the (quite difficult) process of partner qualification through other means like certification.
See here for the current Partner program details.
Magento has become really popular in a very short timeframe and spread widely, partly because of its many great partners. But now that it’s so popular, the current program creates more problems than it solves.