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Ruckus' Zimmer said that based on his first month's worth of conversations with Ruckus partners, it's clear Ruckus has a "happy channel." That said, Ruckus is already at work on new programs and support resources based directly on partner feedback.
For example, Ruckus this summer will launch a series of road shows under the banner of its "Ruck-U" technical training series, as a way to provide regional events that complement its annual Big Dogs partner conference. The need there, according to Zimmer and Callisch, was from Ruckus partners who want to send more of their sales and engineering employees to bone up on Ruckus' wireless wares without having to fly whole teams across the country.
Callisch said Ruckus would also provide more resources around vertical market opportunities where Ruckus has seen success, such as K-12 education and healthcare, and where it is expanding, such as transportation, logistics and retail. Other new partner tools include Ruckus' recently released app-based product guide, with videos and full information on the Ruckus portfolio. Another potential future move, said Zimmer, is an expanded set of professional services tools for Ruckus' most strategic partners, including its Top Dog echelon.
"We are a little bit adolescent in the channel program," Zimmer said. "The partners look at us and are saying, we're experiencing the same and greater growth as you, and they're looking for us to provide a self-service model, along with info and tools when they need them."
Al Brown, president and CEO of SmartWave Technologies, a Suwanee, Ga.-based solution provider and Ruckus' 2011 healthcare solution provider of the year, described Ruckus as a strategic vendor that does a lot to protect partners who register deals.
But as it grows its channel program there's more Ruckus could be doing for marketing resources and in passing good leads to qualified partners, Brown said.
"There is MDF, for example, but it's not always clear how to get it," he said.
It's a critical time for Ruckus, because as it continues to grow -- and gain channel mindshare -- it'll be tempted to target the channel partner bases of major competitors like Cisco, Brown added. The danger in that is a Ruckus that's less focused on the solution providers that invested during its start-up days.
"I hope they don't forget the partners that got them there," Brown said.