Huawei To Challenge Cisco With Bold U.S. Enterprise Channel Push


Huawei on Wednesday formally launched a channel program for U.S.-based partners, part of an overall push by its enterprise networking unit designed to establish the China-based networking giant in markets around the world.

The Huawei channel program, which will roll out first to U.S.-based solution providers but is also being promised to Canada in the near-term, will be housed under Huawei's U.S. Enterprise Group based in Santa Clara, Calif., which is part of Huawei's global Enterprise Business Group. The global group was recently formed as part of a restructuring of the parent company, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.

The goal, according to Huawei's U.S.-based enterprise and channel team, is to do 100 percent of Huawei's enterprise sales here through channel partners. Huawei is making the official unveiling in line with Interop New York this week.

"We have a long-term commitment to the U.S. market," said Kevin Lu, director of channel management, in an interview with CRN. "Sales training, pre-sales and post-sales training, all of it is in line to work with our partners to be able to sell our products quickly."

Huawei has previously not had a major U.S. presence, but its international growth has earned it the attention of the IT industry's biggest vendors. At Cisco's recent Financial Analyst conference, for example, Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers described Huawei as "a very tough competitor over the long term," listing Huawei alongside HP, Juniper and Avaya as the vendors whom Cisco considers its fiercest competition.

Based in Shenzhen, China, Huawei was founded in 1988 and is employee-owned, with about 120,000 employees worldwide. Critics have in the past pointed to Huawei's alleged ties to the Chinese military -- ties Huawei has consistently denied -- and the U.S. government's concerns stemming from those allegations, as a reason for its low penetration in the U.S. market.

But there's no denying Huawei's place among the world's established networking vendors. Its products run the gamut from telecom infrastructure equipment, a market in which by most estimates it holds the No. 2 global market share behind Ericsson, to tablets and smartphones.

Huawei reported about $28 billion in revenue last year, and according to U.S.-based representatives, $2 billion of that was global enterprise sales.

William Plummer, Huawei's vice president of public affairs, told CRN that Huawei expects that enterprise revenue number to double this year. Huawei is unlike any other U.S.-based networking competitor because it's an established international brand with the backing of its corporate parent and global resources, not a networking startup or a market newcomer, he said.

"We're in an incredibly unique position in the marketplace," Plummer said. "The key to our success is our investment here. We're going to grow, we're going to nurture and create an open, interoperable and partner-based ecosystem system. The ecosystem in North America is as ripe as it is anywhere else."

The goal, Lu and Plummer said, is for Huawei to recruit U.S. channel partners looking for alternatives to Cisco and other established networking players and offer financial incentives to help those partners win deals.

"It's obvious to us that there is room for competition," Plummer said. "There is latent demand for new competition and new innovation this space, whether in the U.S. or elsewhere.

Next: Details Of Huawei's Partner Program