This summer, Brocade will launch a new partner program around the fruits of the Foundry acquisition, which brought together channel- and OEM-friendly Brocade with Foundry, a company that focused mostly on direct sales. Brocade is launching the new program to step up Foundry's presence in the networking channel. Over the next few months, the company will be recruiting VARs and looking at its current roster of distributors, while possibly adding new ones, as it positions itself as the only end-to-end competitor to Cisco Systems. At the outset, the new networking program will be separate from Brocade's flagship partner program, with overlap being introduced over time.
Leading Brocade's networking charge is Barbara Spicek, newly named vice president of global channels, who is taking Brocade's channel chief spot after eight years in the company's partner sales organization.
In an exclusive interview with Channelweb.com, Spicek said job No. 1 is for her to build out Foundry's channel presence as Brocade targets Ethernet VARs to complete the end-to-end story and take on Cisco.
"The key differentiator for us is that the program will be more selective ... There are a lot of Cisco partners out there, but the reality is there are 15,000 plus in the U.S. and 1,400 in Germany and countries in the U.K.," she said. "The big markets are almost so over-distributed that it gets very difficult for the partners to make any margin."
Cisco could not be reached for comment.
And while the Brocade/Foundry alliance sees Cisco Systems as its main competitor in the end-to-end data center and networking field, Spicek said Brocade plans to start small, bringing only a handful of resellers and distributors into the fledgling Foundry program and limiting cross-selling and overlap to only areas where it makes sense for partners to offer the full product portfolio.
"We're not going to go wild and just sign up 50,000 partners," she said. "We're going to go very selectively because that in itself will guarantee partners more margin and more value."
Spicek continued: "I think one of the biggest issues in the industry right now is that channel partners don't see where there is profitability for them anymore, so by keeping it selective we're hoping to make it far more attractive for partners to join."
Spicek said her job over the next few months is to build a strong program for networking channel partners around the globe. Foundry's previous program was a single-tiered model fueled mostly by direct sales. Over the course of the year, Spicek said she hopes to build Foundry's partner base to a maximum of three to four distributors and 10 to 15 resellers in the first stage. The program is set to officially launch in the May to June time frame.
"Foundry has been going to market primarily through their enterprise sales forces and hasn't so much developed a scalable channel model," she said. "We really see the opportunity in building up a strong channel network as one of the major opportunities and synergies of the merger of the two companies. My job over the next month will be to introduce a very strong, competitive, very attractive channel program to the networking channel partners across the world."
And while many networking vendors such as Cisco, Hewlett-Packard's ProCurve Networking by HP and Juniper Networks are building out their partner bases with new data center-aimed products, Brocade is taking a different approach. Spicek said the Brocade program and its Foundry wing are separate for the time being, limiting overlap. Spicek said she's re-evaluating both Brocade's and Foundry's partner arsenals to determine the best way to proceed, while also investigating which distribution partners Brocade will bring in on the Foundry side.
NEXT: VARs Weigh In