A10 Networks Rolls Out New Channel Program To Fuel 'Next Stage Of Growth'


A10 Networks, fresh off an initial public offering, is rolling out a new partner program aimed at driving consistency across its global partner base and fueling A10's broader sales and marketing charge.

The A10 Affinity Partner Program, which A10 plans to unveil Tuesday, is being spearheaded by Kirsten Lee, the company's first vice president of global channels. Lee joined A10 in November from Hewlett-Packard, where she most recently was vice president of worldwide channel marketing for HP's Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking organization.

The new program, Lee said, is one of several steps she plans on taking to boost partner engagement and build out A10's global channel footprint.

[Related: A10 Networks Files For $100M IPO]

"We are making significant improvements and investments in our partner program to really fuel that next stage of growth," Lee told CRN.

A10 has about 240 North American channel partners and 550 worldwide. The San Jose, Calif.-based application delivery controller vendor said it's had a "baseline" partner program in place for years, but nothing like A10 Affinity, which formally segments partners into three different tiers -- Bronze, Gold and Platinum -- and arms them with new enablement programs and incentives.

Lee said partners will be categorized as Bronze, Gold or Platinum based on both their revenue commitments to A10, along with other factors, such as the breadth of partners' presence in the field or the number of sales reps they put through A10's new partner enablement training.

"It's really a combination of both the revenue investments and the technical investments being made, and an ability to drive demand, that gets you into the different tiers," Lee said.

Annual revenue commitments are $50,000 at the Bronze level, $500,000 at the Gold level and $1.5 million at the Platinum level. Lee said she expects "the majority" of A10's partners to fall into the Gold tier, with about five or six of the company's more "elite" partners being placed in Platinum.

As partners climb up the stack, incentives and discounts get sweeter, and they gain more access to A10 resources, such as channel account managers and marketing funds. Lee said all partners qualify for MDF on a quarterly basis, but that Platinum partners will see the most significant investments.

All partners also have access to A10's first formalized deal registration program. "With an approved registration, depending on [a partner's] tier, we will apply an additional discount that is aggregated at the time of purchase, so it's all up front and there are no back-end rebates."

"[A10] is looking to grow market share and they have done their homework in terms of putting something together with partners in mind," said Bill Xydias, director of marketing at Integration Partners, a Lexington, Mass.-based solution provider. "The program is flexible and essentially empowers us to do what's right for us."

Xydias said Integration Partners became a partner of A10's just two months ago, after noticing the A10 brand was starting to resonate more with customers.

"[A10] is definitely becoming brand-aware within our customer base in the Northeast," Xydias said. "And, in our business, customers expect us to know the landscape and who's competitive and up-and-coming."

As part of the new program, all partners are required to take a new A10 training and enablement course. Called the Affinity Enablement Program, the online training course is broken out into three tracks, with each focusing on a specific partner sales role. The first track, called the foundational track, is for all partners, regardless of their role, and gives an overview of A10 as a company, along with a high-level look at A10's Thunder product lines.

The second track is targeted at partner sales reps and the third track is the most technical, designed to give partner pre-sales engineers a deeper dive into A10 products and how to demo them to customers.

The new course is available online and on demand, through the A10 partner portal.

A10's new partner program comes just two months after the company filed for a $100 million initial public offering with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Lee said the money A10 raises through the IPO will be put largely toward A10's sales organization, including the channel.

"The IPO, on top of all this, is just incredible timing," Lee told CRN. "A lot of the investment from the IPO is going right back into investments not only in the channel, but sales and the field and marketing, so the timing is really great to partner with A10."

PUBLISHED APRIL 21, 2014