Brocade spruces up APN channel programme

Brocade has just added new technology specialisations to its Alliance Partner Network (APN) Programme in what it claims represents a major boost for its channel business. Channel Middle East spoke with the company’s EMEA channel director, Amanda Giddins, to find out what it all means for Middle East partners.

Tags: Brocade Communications Systems Incorporation
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Brocade spruces up APN channel programme
By  Andrew Seymour Published  August 14, 2010

CME: You have added technology specialisations to the APN programme. How is that going to benefit the channel?

AG: What this really means is that we can differentiate our partners even further based on their technology competencies, but also the skills or areas they are looking to develop. It adds a lot more value into the programme because we will recognise partners whether they are strong from the fibre channel SAN side – we are calling that partnership virtualised fabrics – or on the networking infrastructure side or more recently on the application delivery side.

CME: So there are three specialisations in total then?

AG: Yes. I do see that expanding, but for the time being we are focusing on the three, and this plays really well into Brocade’s strategy where we target the campus networks for enterprise LANs, into the data centre for virtualisation and converged architecture, and then into application delivery with our layer four to layer seven portfolio.

CME: So why have you decided to launch these specialisations at this particular time?

AG: Firstly, because we want to recognise the competencies of our existing partners, but also to aid those partners which are looking to get into the converged architecture. It allows them to take specific accreditations and certifications and they will get additional benefits on the back of that as well — so additional discounts, rebates and margin opportunities. One of the key things is that our go-to-market is very selective. We are not going out to recruit hundreds of partners, it is about working with the partners that are committed to Brocade. But we are putting a lot on the table to make them profitable around selling our portfolio.

CME: Can any partner benefit from access to the specialisations?

AG: We are making this very selective. It is for those partners that are already committed to us on the Elite and Premier level of our Alliance Partner Network.

CME: How many partners are likely to achieve the specialisations?

AG: As we introduce the programme over the next couple of months we will be looking for a very small number of partners that fall into these specialisations. Within the UAE, where we have a number of partners, we would probably choose two or three for each of the specialisations. No more than that.

CME: When you talk about converged architecture opportunities, is Brocade’s channel offering just about selling product sets?

AG: No, it is not just about selling product, it is more about the services and support that the partner can offer through to the end-user. We will recognise those partners, not just for their own pre-sales and technical skills, but also the support services that they can add to their own portfolio on the back of selling our products as well. Unlike some vendors, we are very much reliant on the partners delivering services and support in-country to the customer. We will offer the back-line support to the partner but we enable them to make a business out of selling product, support and services.

CME: You joined the company with a remit to build the channel business. How much investment is Brocade making in the channel?

AG: The investment going into channel is huge overall in Brocade. We are currently recruiting another 80 sales people across EMEA and particularly in the UAE and the Gulf area — and Saudi Arabia as well — we are adding larger teams, so there is a lot of recruitment going on at the moment in this region. Traditionally, a large amount of the Foundry business was done in the Middle East on the IP side. We have got some excellent customer wins and reference sites in government, universities and service providers out here and we see a huge opportunity to develop further in the Gulf region.

CME: How far away would you say your Middle East channel structure is from being complete?

AG: There is still quite a bit of work to be done, but we have evolved it. First of all we introduced a two-tier channel strategy, which neither Brocade or Foundry had previously. I see that evolving much more as well, working very closely with our distributor Mindware. The other area that we are now investing in is working with larger systems integrators because they have the traditional server and storAGe business. Where they see the opportunity now is the convergence of the technology with networking infrastructure and they are the partners we are investing in heavily.

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