Equinix Enhances Its Emerging Channel Program

Equinix is fairly new to the channel, but the global data center giant stepped up its game Tuesday to assist its burgeoning partner community in implementing hybrid clouds for their enterprise customers.

Equinix enhanced its channel program -- a year old this week -- with partner training and certification programs, a new portal and partner-enablement tools, Chris Rajiah, vice president of worldwide channel sales and alliances at Equinix, told CRN.

The new elements were designed to help partners drive revenue through leveraging the company's global colocation reach coupled with the Equinix Cloud Exchange, which allows direct connections to all the major cloud providers, Rajiah said.

[Related: Equinix Closes $3.8 Billion TelecityGroup Deal, Consolidating Colocation Leadership In Europe]

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For 18 years, Equinix, Redwood City, Calif., leased server capacity directly to its customers. But the cloud upended that business model.

The Equinix Cloud Exchange, launched in April 2014, enabled direct, high-speed connections between Equinix facilities and cloud providers like Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Oracle and IBM.

The advent of hybrid clouds powered by the Exchange, and the observation that multi-cloud environments were resonating with customers, contributed to amending the go-to-market plan, according to Rajiah.

"To penetrate the enterprise," Rajiah said, "the partner is the only way to get there."

Rajiah, who previously was channel chief at Rackspace, was tasked with building a team to implement a channel strategy.

Over the past year, the company built the foundation of its channel program, a shift that involved creating a team of 50 employees. Equinix ended the year approaching 400 partners, most referral partners or agents, but also around 50 resellers, typically MSPs or system integrators, Rajiah told CRN.

"We've been aligning with those big hyper-scalers and then going after and targeting together some of their partners in that resale bucket. That's created go-to-market solutions where they are embedding our solution with their customers," Rajiah said.

The process has "really embedded channel into every component of the company," he said.

As Equinix continued that pivot into 2016, the focus shifted to go-to-market execution.

The new program enhancements incorporate specialized training regimes developed by sales and technical teams that help partners understand what the hybrid cloud and multi-cloud opportunities are and how to drive business with them.

Drew Lydecke is president of Avant Communications, a cloud services provider based in Chicago that has adopted a cloud broker model and focuses on enabling sales for the channel.

Equinix has become "a landing spot for the hybrid cloud," Lydecke said, and upping the training was essential for further channel development.

"For us, enabling our partners to work with such a fantastic program fits our model to a T," Lydecker said.

Education is key to partners' capitalizing on the power of the Equinix platform, which has become a gateway to the hyper-scale clouds and enterprise cloud providers, he said.

"The more educated trusted advisers are out there, the more successful they are," Lydecker said. "They're giving our largest VARs and trusted advisers an opportunity to do a lot of business with Equinix."

Sandy Bateh, senior vice president of Princeton, N.J.-based Hanu Software, which offers managed services exclusively for Microsoft Azure, said the Equinix Cloud Exchange and subsequent launch of a channel program filled in a gap that had been a detriment to partners.

"It is that missing piece for customers trying to adopt Azure as part of a hybrid cloud solution," Bateh said. "It fits that last need of a dedicated pipe, at least for our customers."

Before Equinix had a partner channel, cloud-focused solution providers could discuss the potential of hybrid implementation with customers, and they could suggest Equinix for the colocation component, but were stopped short of offering an end-to-end solution.

"It was almost like saying a portion of Microsoft was hanging out there that wasn't partner friendly," Bateh said. "This allows us to tie the loose end with a customer."