Equinix Launches First-Ever Channel Program

Equinix, the data center and cloud infrastructure powerhouse, has worked for years with solution providers, but Tuesday, for the first time in the company's history, launched a channel program.

The Channel Partner Program creates a ramp for a number of companies that are formally Equinix customers to become Equinix partners, and sets the stage for recruiting many more.

The partner program was designed for MSPs, network service providers and system integrators that effectively always were partners -- managing workloads, connecting services and hosting clouds for enterprise customers on infrastructure in Equinix's more than 100 network-neutral facilities around the world.

[Related: Equinix Launches New State-Of-The-Art Exchange]

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Pete Hayes, Equinix's chief sales officer, told CRN that while the company has experience working with a variety of solution providers, "the thing we are really trying to do different this time is more of a comprehensive program."

That means additional training, an engagement model, global pricing and ensuring the direct sales team is given incentives and is motivated to work with a growing network of partners, Hayes told CRN.

"We've added a lot of our resources and created focused programs to help get this initiative off the ground," he added.

As part of the evolution, Equinix has brought in Chris Rajiah as its new vice president of channels. Rajiah, who came to Equinix from ViaWest, previously held the position of Rackspace's channel chief.

Rajiah told CRN that many Equinix customers have already begun the process of signing up to become official partners.

"Formalizing the relationship can make it a win-win for both sides," Rajiah told CRN. "We will have certain requirements, but in turn they will get some benefits."

Those benefits, in addition to programmatic components like training and certification, include rate cuts, closer engagement with Equinix's internal sales team (with dedicated resources just to support partner accounts) and joint marketing campaigns and events.

Hayes said the new program is simply an extension of the framework that was already in place, intended to better enable the IT channel community "to partner with us and extend their business."

Large, cloud-focused solution providers like Carpathia, Datapipe and Datalink have effectively been partners with Equinix for years, deploying clouds for their customers on Equinix infrastructure. Those companies will formally transition to the new program to receive pricing and engagement benefits, Hayes said.

Dave Stinson, vice president of sales at Carpathia, told CRN the Dulles, Va.-based service provider has been working with Equinix since its inception in 2004, originally just deploying some customer workloads in an Equinix facility in Virginia.

But as Carpathia set its sights on global growth after a 2008 acquisition, the company expanded the relationship into many of Equinix's top-tier international data centers, from which Carpathia offers enterprises managed cloud services.

"I, as well as the rest of the team, were tremendously excited that they were getting more programmatic about how they would deploy their channel program," Stinson told CRN. "While we've been working for years, the way they're breaking out specifically a channel program is going to greatly benefit Carpathia."

The "legacy model" in which Equinix did not formalize its relationship meant "our endeavor was a little more challenging." The partnership, with formalized compensation plans and joint marketing, will help Carpathia pivot to where the market is going, which is to hybrid cloud platforms, Stinson told CRN.

"They're certainly moving in the right direction as it relates to their channel program," he told CRN.

Hayes told CRN that launching a formal program is viewed as a means to expand Equinix's overall ecosystem. With the proliferation of cloud services, and last year's launch of the Equinix Cloud Exchange, it's the right time to get serious about a channel, he said.

The Equinix Cloud Exchange last year integrated a who's who of strategic partners like AWS, IBM SoftLayer, Microsoft Azure, Google and Cisco.

"The demand that we're seeing for Cloud Exchange and hybrid cloud is just increasing exponentially. We just need to be in a position to help our customers get there," Hayes said.

Those heavyweight partners all have thriving channel businesses of their own, with partners ranging from global MSPs to small VARs. Equinix has its eyes on many solution providers it hopes to recruit, and in meetings with Amazon, Microsoft, Google and other cloud providers has seen those partner networks often overlap with its own targets.

"We're working hand-in-hand with these guys so we can understand who their top partners are so we can also get them into our program," Hayes told CRN.