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Johnson likened the SDN trend to when Web browsers became widely available in the mid-90s: huge productivity gains based on the fact that average users could surf and use the Internet much more easily. SDN features, when applied right, unlock the benefits of virtualization and software-centric data center architecture.
"We get to try to do again what we did in 1994 as an industry," Johnson said. "That's what we're delivering here."
ADARA shifted from a direct sales model to 100 percent channel sales in February of this year, adding certifications around engineering and sales to its training program and creating an Elite level of partnership for its more advanced solution providers. Expect it to scale the program significantly over the next year, Johnson said.
"I don't care how brilliant you are, you need to partner," Johnson said. "You can't possibly think up all the permutations of how your technology is going to be used, and there's always other ideas about how to secure it, how to market it. There are a million things you get in return when you talk to the channel."
A number of solution providers already have taken the plunge with ADARA.
"Everything out there today is networked, whether it's local, in the cloud, on the WAN, and everyone is working virtually," said Tim McKnight, vice president of sales and marketing for Total Computer Group, a Melville, N.Y.-based solution provider. "We started looking into SDN and understanding it a bit more and what it can solve for clients, and we looked into ADARA and I was very interested."
Total Computer Group has an ADARA demo lab set up and has already worked through a few proofs-of-concept.
"I have a client that has multiple sites nationally and is spending $900,000 a year on circuits," he said. "We showed them the ROI behind the POC we put together. When you can do that, their eyes open. They're skeptical, but they say to you, 'If this is true, then this is huge.' You have to go for their pocket and show them exactly where the money comes back to them."
McKnight said ADARA, as a startup, can offer him time and resources that a major vendor can't or won't, and he saluted ADARA for recognizing that.
"I like their business model," he said. "We're not a product-of-the-month type company and the products change every month anyway, so that's not what brought us in. Eric's a sharp guy and he knows exactly where he's going with this."
Joe Ambrosole, president of NetConnect, a Staten Island, N.Y.-based solution provider, said ADARA's appeal is how it opens new business opportunities.
"You have to differentiate yourself as soon as possible, and that's a hard thing to do today," he said. "This is different. Its allows me to bring in new technologies to existing clients and it has opened doors for NetConnect into new enterprise clients."
ADARA also recognized that its sales are more of a platform integration than a networking resale, so it was quick to put resources into its partner sign-ons, Ambrosole said.
"Being a new technology, it is sometimes difficult to sell and configure," Ambrosole admitted. "We rely on ADARA's team for high-level technical support, which they continue to provide. The big companies don't give a smaller reseller personalized attention. I get that with ADARA because they need the product moved and they need to gain visibility. So they're out there helping me move the product in a way the incumbent players do not."
Customers are just beginning to embrace SDN concepts, Ambrosole said, and he agreed with other solution providers that they're more apt to buy on cost savings vs. the excitement of new technology.
"I'm not saying these switches and routers of today will disappear tomorrow. But eventually they will," Ambrosole said. "The appeal right now is that you can put these in as an overlay to the existing network and speed up performance. Customers put data into the same pipes they already have and they get better performance."
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