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Cloud, Convergence Top Issues For Intelisys Partners At Channel Connect

Senior vice president of cloud transformation for Intelisys Andrew Pryfogle shares the major themes and conversations partners can look forward to at the 2015 Intelisys Channel Connect.

More than 400 sales partners will flock to Wine Country this week as master agent Intelisys hosts its annual Channel Connect event in Napa, Calif.

This year, convergence between the network and the cloud will be the major theme on everyone's minds heading into the show, said Andrew Pryfogle, senior vice president of cloud transformation for Intelisys, based in Petaluma, Calif. While cloud has had a tremendous ripple effect throughout the Intelisys community lately, the network is becoming more critical too. With a record-breaking sales year winding to a close, channel partners are looking for ways to keep pace with the growth.

In an exclusive interview with CRN, Pryfogle shared details about what partners can expect and what they'll be buzzing about this year at the show.

[Related: CRN Exclusive: Telecom Expense Management Provider To Intro Mobile App At Intelisys' Channel Connect]

What are the issues that partners will be talking to each other about this year?

Pryfogle: A lot of the talk this week will be, "What suppliers are performing well for you?" This is a recurring-revenue business and partners are wired to think about that and what the barriers are to building recurring revenue. They are thinking, "If I sell a service (and) it's delivered poorly or doesn’t work well, that recurring revenue goes away, so I have to do everything I can to prevent that. The best thing I can do is make sure my suppliers are operationally excellent right now." Partner A will be asking Partner B about their experience with a supplier who is delivering really well and which customers are happiest. On the flip side, who has had turnover, or performance issues or network challenges? Partners want to know where the pain is.

We foster these kinds of discussions. Sometimes a supplier is really strong, and sometimes weak, and a lot of factors play into it. Keeping track of who is doing well is a hot topic with sales partners right now.

Speaking of happy customers, tell us a little about the CIO case studies panel at this year's show

Pryfogle: Our case studies are always well-received and it's going to be an awesome conversation -- people sit on the edge of their seats and soak it up. I think it's going to be insightful because getting inside the mind of a CIO is a big challenge. They'll [answer questions like] How do you like to be sold to? Why buy through the channel versus buying direct, and what value does that bring you?

Partners are really interested to hear real-life stories because they'll think, "We have a customer that looks like that," and if they can gather just a couple of pearls to have a different conversation with that client, that could be golden for them.

Your keynote this year will highlight a big theme: convergence. Can you share a bit about how convergence between cloud and networking is impacting partners?

Pryfogle: We've been hearing about convergence for some time, but I think it's really starting to pick up steam now. My keynote is all (about) what I call the interconnected cloud. The network itself is becoming more and more critical, as is the intelligent network with [software-defined networking] SDN, [network functions virtualization] NFV, and SD-WAN that allows for a network to adjust on the fly to changing demand. As everything moves to the cloud, it's putting more emphasis on providers and companies that understand WAN. If you are a sales partner and expert on building and managing networks, your value is going up exponentially.

Some people have held the belief that the old telco partner is going to go away. Maybe if their focus is on traditional products, that might be true, but we've seen growth (in) WANs, and high-capacity, high-availability, low-latency networks. Those that know how to build those networks, their value is going up huge because that’s a huge point of convergence right now.

Can you share details about the awards that will be given out this year?

Pryfogle: Our partners are really hitting new levels, with many over $500,000 and over $250,000 in recurring revenue a month. All our partners are moving up and building their bases. We're also announcing our first Platinum Plus Partner who has reached $1.5 million a month in recurring revenue! Only eight partners have achieved our Platinum status so far, hitting $1 million a month in recurring revenue. We've had a record year, and anytime our sales are through the roof means our partners' businesses are through the roof. These [partners] are wondering where the next big opportunities are.

Cloud is a really big part of [that growth]. We just did our launch with SADA Systems [and] we had over 300 partners register for a webinar about SADA and Microsoft -- all of them showing up en masse to learn how to take full advantage of this [partnership].

For partners that want to get into the cloud, where do they start?

Pryfogle: We've made a huge investment in education and in our Cloud Services University. We've opened it up to the industry. We have 466 certifications so far and 1,350 of our sales partners are in the university going through certification tracks. This is all self-paced, online training that allows them to go really deep on this stuff. We also have in-person trainings and mind-share events, and there (are) two full days of training at Channel Connect.

We're always teaching our partners how to make this pivot. [We are teaching] VARs how to make the transition to the network, and traditional telco agents how to make this move to cloud. And also, where you both meet in the middle because VARs and agents are really eating from opposite sides of the same apple. Our education strategy is a huge investment we've made, and we have a long list of supplier partners who are active participants and really big supporters.


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