Big Switch's Big Splash: Commercial Sales Launch, Focus On Channel12:00 AM EST Tue. Nov. 13, 2012
Software-defined networking (SDN) startup Big Switch Networks wants to sell 100 percent through solution providers, part of the company's emerging go-to-market strategy as it begins general availability of its controllers, platforms and applications this week.
Big Switch executives told CRN the company has begun to recruit systems integrator and data center infrastructure-focused solution providers that can consult and design network architecture using Big Switch software and products from a galaxy of ecosystem partners, many of which Big Switch disclosed Tuesday.
Ideally, Big Switch would like all of its commercial sales to go through partners, said Dave Butler, vice president of sales at Big Switch.
"None of our products work well alone in a data center -- this is a very rigorous and rich ecosystem of partners," Butler told CRN. "We'll pay a finder's fee to anyone who brings the right opportunity to us, but we're not really a product sale. We need the integrators that can create a bundled solution, because that's what makes the difference."
Solution providers can now sell the Big Switch portfolio, which has three major product lines. Big Virtual Switch is used to dynamically provision virtual networking segments, with support for up to 32,000 of them and also integration into orchestration systems such as VMware's vCenter, Microsoft's System Center, OpenStack and CloudStack. According to the company, Big Virtual Switch not only improves overall VM density but also provides up to 50 percent more VMs per rack, rescuing "stranded" computing capacity.
There's also Big Tap, which provides monitoring functions to the network, and Big Network Controller, the Open SDN application platform and commercial version of Big Switch's previously released Floodlight controller for delivering unified network intelligence and providing common network abstraction across a customer's infrastructure.
Pricing for Big Switch's products starts at about $4,200 a month for Big Virtual Switch, about $500 a month for Big Tap and about $1,700 a month for Big Network Controller.
Palo Alto, Calif.-based Big Switch was founded in 2010 and has become one of the best-known companies in the quickly crowding market for SDN startups. It marketed itself initially as an OpenFlow specialist, using that switching and communications protocol in technology that addresses packet routing on a software layer that's separate from a network's physical infrastructure.
Big Switch's profile has heightened as SDN itself gets bigger and bigger notices. The company earlier this month announced a $25 million round of Series B funding, bringing its total venture capital take to $39 million. It also added several veteran industry executives in recent months, including Butler, a former vice president of sales and business development at Aruba Networks, and also Vice President of Marketing Jason Matlof, a veteran of Cisco, Neoteris and Battery Ventures.
NEXT: Strategic Vendor Partnerships Are Key
Big Switch's strategic vendor partnerships will be key to convincing customers and partners of its approach, Butler argued. Big Switch's Open SDN ecosystem has some varied, and big-name, participants, including A10 Networks, Arista Networks, Broadcom, Brocade, Canonical, Cariden, Citrix, Cloudscaling, Coraid, Dell, Endace, Extreme Networks, F5 Networks, Fortinet, Infoblox, Juniper Networks, Mellanox, Microsoft, Mirantis, Nebula, Piston Cloud, Palo Alto Networks, Radware, StackOps, ThreatStop, vArmour and Vyatta.
Accuvant, the Denver-based infrastructure solution providers, is among its early channel partner sign-ons.
"Accuvant is partnering with a number of companies in the SDN space," said Steve Perkins, Accuvant's director of secure virtualization. "We see it as important because networking today is a key underpinning and foundation of security. If the network changes, Accuvant needs to understand it at its most fundamental level."
Accuvant plans to partner with many companies in the SDN space but found Big Switch interesting "because of their open systems approach and the extensibility of their architecture, which goes beyond simple networking and into advanced network services and security."
Other partners are still in various stages of hammering out an agreement, Big Switch's Butler said, but they come from a number of data center and infrastructure disciplines, including network security, cloud and the OpenStack community. Butler and Matlof declined to discuss exact partner margins on Big Switch sales, but they said the returns would be "generally higher than what partners are used to" and that partners would also be able to register deals.
While few other SDN companies have articulated channel strategies as they come to market, Big Switch had little question that it would work with partners, Butler added.
"We bring them in as the specialist, and they have probably a greater touch than we might," Butler said. "We are not taking deals direct. Then, you have to do all the work by yourself. This is a perfect solution for their services and expertise. And, they can make money with us."
PUBLISHED NOV. 13, 2012