Ruckus Wireless has been one of the networking space's big channel success stories this year, with a partner community numbering more than 1,200 partners worldwide, and a push upmarket, toward the enterprise wireless space beyond its core SMB customer base.
Now it has a channel chief, too.
Ruckus recently named John Sampson director of global channel programs, following previous channel executive positions at Meraki Networks and Sun Microsystems, and sales roles at Verizon and other companies. Earlier in his career, Sampson was also himself a VAR.
Sampson will have global responsibility for all Ruckus channel sales through Big Dog, Ruckus' partner program. He joined the company just before Thanksgiving, and reports to Rob Mustarde, Ruckus' vice president of worldwide sales.
According to Sampson, when the opportunity became available, he reached out to Mustarde and found what he describes as a company "excited to make the channel successful."
"I had been in a position [at Meraki] where I was out recruiting and talking to a lot of resellers focusing on wireless LANs, and in the small and medium enterprises I came across Ruckus quite often," Sampson said in a Channelweb.com interview. "Everyone who'd had experience with the product loved it and had nothing but positive things to say about doing business with Ruckus. After hearing that message so often, it made me take a long, hard look at what they were doing, and I reached out to Rob and said, 'This would be a great fit for me.'"
Sampson comes to Ruckus at a time when the upstart wireless vendor is making big waves in the channel. Earlier this year, Ruckus updated its ZoneFlex Enterprise Smart Wireless LAN products to help move it beyond its established SMB base.
In October, the company launched a revamped Big Dog channel partner program that established elite partner levels and is part of what Ruckus describes as an effort to bring its closest and most invested partners closer.
"Our top priority is investing in those partners that are investing in us," Sampson said. "We're focusing our efforts really on five key areas, and we have an expanded emphasis on emerging and international markets. We want to increase not only the dealflow but the size of the deals, and we want to very quickly make sure that our program scales globally."
Sampson said the recent ratification of the 802.11n wireless standard is prompting the very beginning of a new refresh cycle in wireless gear, and that refresh will mean big business for wireless VARs in 2010.
"We have incredibly compelling offerings and we're looking at putting bundles in place that make it very simple to [upgrade] wireless LAN," he explained. "Our reliability and performance advantages are going to take us into supporting video, the voice market, outdoor opportunities and other areas, and channel partners are the focus."
Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Ruckus garnered $32.9 million in revenue in 2008 and expects its wireless LAN revenue to triple by the time 2009 closes. According to the company, it began the year with 156 employees and now has 240.
Sampson said Ruckus is more concerned with leveraging its approximately 1,200 channel partners than recruiting new ones, but that wouldn't necessarily mean a halt to recruitment, either. He added that Ruckus expects to double channel revenue worldwide for ZoneFlex over the next year, and will be sticking with its two distributors, Synnex and ScanSource, with no plans to add additional distributors.
"Ruckus Wireless gets that the channel is the key to success," he said. "I couldn't be happier, and I can't wait to really get started."