Brocade on Wednesday confirmed details for the first of four new channel partner specializations under its Alliance Partner Network (APN) program.
The specializations are designed to recognize partners for particular competencies, and partners who qualify will receive product discounts, marketing assistance and other benefits.
First in the specialization is the Network Infrastructure Partner Specialization, intended for partners that offer Brocade storage area networking (SAN) and IP/Ethernet products. It requires partners to have both a BCNP (Brocade Certified Network Professional) certification and a BCSM (Brocade Certified SAN Manager) certification. They must also be a current Brocade partner at the Elite or Premier level.
The specialization carries no additional cost if partners meet the requirements, according to Brocade. Among benefits, they receive additional discount points, seed units, dedicated pre-sales support from Brocade, access to a Brocade proof-of-concept lab, end-user marketing and promotion materials, leads and demand generation programs.
Other partner specializations for data center infrastructure, virtualized fabrics and application delivery -- each of which will carry separate requirements -- will debut later this year as part of ongoing revisions to the APN program.
"Last year was all about the major plumbing of the program," said Barbara Spicek, vice president of worldwide channels at Brocade, in a CRN interview. "This is about taking it a step further and going into it in line with the Brocade One architectural vision, where the network is your data center and where you spend your intelligence."
Brocade, she said, is looking to recruit and grow more specialized, highly skilled partners. It's important that Brocade offer education and real financial rewards, Spicek added, especially for partners who feel specializations aren't much more than pieces of paper.
"We don't want to just use it as a profit center," she said. "We have competitors who charge horrendous amounts for specialization and we want to make sure we don't keep the barrier for entry too high. We understand partners have a huge challenge of time for training and investment."
Spicek said about 25 percent of Brocade partners would be eligible for the Network Infrastructure specialization and that specializations would be granted starting in August.
The specializations come on the heels of recent additions to the APN program. Last fall, introduced its Professional Services Program and Support Delivery Program, and in April, at its partner summit in Las Vegas, began offering rebate programs for select 10 Gigabit Ethernet products, lead generation programs, deal registration for specific vertical markets and additional marketing development funds. It also appointed Laurie Potratz to run Brocade's Americas Channel Sales Organization.
Additional revisions to Brocade's APN program will come in the fourth quarter, Spicek said.
Brocade earlier this month unveiled Brocade One, a new data center strategy that, thanks to its emphasis on virtualization-centric products and services related to converged networking, brings Brocade into more direct competition with Cisco, Juniper and HP in the data center.