CRN Exclusive: Networking Startup Plexxi to Sell Solely Through Arrow

Plexxi's next-generation networking products will be sold exclusively through Arrow Electronics going forward to improve integration with other vendors and maximize access to data center partners, according to the Nashua, N.H. based company.

The software-defined networking startup has opted to go to market solely with the Englewood, Colo.-based distributor in hopes of growing its channel partner base from a handful today to 100 a year from now, Plexxi CEO Rich Napolitano told CRN exclusively.

"In this new era of IT, distribution is very important because people want to leverage the next generation of technology," Napolitano said.

[RELATED: CRN Exclusive: Plexxi CEO Talks New 'Next Era Converged Network' Switch, Major Revenue Growth In 2015]

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Plexxi has no intention of bringing any other distribution partners on board and will sell its switch and control offerings entirely through the channel, Napolitano said. Solution providers working directly with Plexxi today will be required to source their purchases through Arrow going forward, he said.

The fact that Arrow is the biggest global distributor for both VMware and Cloudera, which tend to align closely with the Plexxi products, as well as Arrow's purchase of federal distributor immixGroup in March, were key, Napolitano said.

"We're not just trying to sell switches," he said. "We're trying to sell an integrated networking solutions aimed at VMware networking environments."

One of Plexxi's biggest partners to date already had a relationship with immixGroup, and Napolitano thinks Plexxi could dramatically reduce infrastructure and deployment costs for the federal government. He also expects the offering to gain momentum in the financial services, education and advertising technology verticals due to the prevalence of large data sets.

Through its relationship with Arrow, Napolitano said Plexxi is looking to partner with solution providers with between $50 million and $150 million of revenue who can commit to doing at least $1 million of business with the vendor. New partners ideally would have experience with VMware, data centers and the Python programming language, Napolitano said.

Napolitano declined to disclose exact margins partners can expect on Plexxi sales, but said they would be "very favorable." Sales will be primarily of a one-time nature, though Napolitano said partners can establish a recurring revenue stream through associated services.

The Plexxi Switch is designed for scale-out networking, providing a high-bandwidth, low-latency environment for applications, data center and cloud environments. Meanwhile, the Plexxi Control software offers a real-time view of network resources and capacity, helping to determine the most efficient path for application traffic flow.

Plexxi will fall into Arrow's networking and virtualization business units, where the distributor already has dozens of vendors and hundreds of solution provider partners, according to Peter Koliopoulos, vice president of marketing for the distributor's Enterprise Computing Solutions (ECS) division.

Arrow will offer both sales and technical support to its partners reselling Plexxi, Koliopoulos said. The sales support will span everything from marketing and demand generation campaigns to financing and go-to-market strategies, he said.

From a technology standpoint, Arrow will provide integration services as well as live multipartner events focused on training and technical development. Plus, Arrow can leverage its large data practice further downstream to give partners visibility into the products most frequently cross-sold with Plexxi and the dynamics of the buying cycle, Koliopoulos said.

"What Plexxi has done is extremely innovative," Koliopoulos said.

Solution providers can also take advantage of Arrow's line card and wrap Plexxi's offerings around products from vendors in similar or adjacent areas such as Splunk in the data center, he said.

And from a services standpoint, Koliopoulos said the channel can provide high-level implementation and integration services around converged infrastructure, and redo the runbook since Plexxi employs very difficult processes than a traditional networking product.

Arrow partner PCPC Direct will explore the possibility of selling Plexxi's products to its federal customers since it fits within the current buying strategies of the U.S. government, according to Steve Olshefski, PCPC's director of federal sales.

Olshefski said the Houston-based company, No. 202 on the 2015 CRN Solution Provider 500, receives a lot of commodity requests from NASA and the National Institutes of Health, as well as requests for market research on how to build the next generation of networks.

The distribution agreement will make it easier for PCPC to provide clients with thought leadership around how to create the data center of the future, he said.