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Ruckus Networks Specialization Program Rewards Partners That Double Down On Cloud

'With the specialization program we have a way to go compete, and are in fact winning against competitors like Meraki,' says Bart Giordano, Ruckus vice president of worldwide business development and cloud.

Ruckus Networks says its new Cloud-Ready Specialization Program will help its channel expand into the growing market for cloud solutions, attract new partners to its ranks and intensify the battle with Cisco Meraki.

Ruckus rolled out the new specialization program today, about 18 months after introducing its Ruckus Cloud Wi-Fi solution. Combined, the solution and the program set Ruckus up for a head-to-head battle with Cisco's cloud-managed networking platform Meraki, said Bart Giordano, Ruckus vice president of worldwide business development and cloud.

"One of the benefits now with Ruckus is we now have this broad portfolio of solutions to address many customer requirements, architectures, deployment models and needs," Giordano said. "We have an ecosystem of partners that are investing in this element of our portfolio, and with the specialization program we have a way to go compete, and are in fact winning against competitors like Meraki."

Related: Ruckus Networks President Whiting On IoT, SD-WAN And The Channel's Role In The Firm's Growth

"Prior to introducing this product into our portfolio, we didn't really have a product that could compete with someone like Meraki, something that really put cloud Wi-Fi on the map," Giordano said. "If a customer expressed preference for a cloud-managed solution, one that's hosted in the public cloud, we didn't really have an answer for them and we had to cede that."

The cloud-managed Wi-Fi market, at not much more than $500 million four years ago, is expected to reach $2.5 billion this year, according to research firm IDC, giving Ruckus an opportunity to gain ground on larger wireless LAN competitors like Cisco and HPE Aruba.

Ruckus' Cloud Wi-Fi business grew about 75 percent year-over-year in the first half, Giordano said, prompting the company to push the solution into new geographies, and also making now a good time to double down on the channel with the new specialization program.

The program push comes as Ruckus begins life as part of Arris. After a long and uncertain sequence of acquisitions, Arris acquired Ruckus late last year. Giordano said the new parent company has so far left Ruckus untouched and gives it broad autonomy.

"Arris gives us this umbrella of certainty now, whereas we went through this kind of awkward period of uncertainty prior to joining Arris," Giordano said. "We get a lot of support for these types of programs, and for engaging the enterprise channel. Arris is incredibly supportive of that."

Gary Berzack, CTO and COO at eTribeca, a New York, N.Y., solution provider that works with Ruckus, said establishing an incentive-based cloud specialization will not only spur solution providers to sell more Ruckus products, but will help Ruckus identify which partners are most valuable.

"A certification process to incentivize the cloud offering is a good step for both the partner and management in identifying who the legitimate partners are who are engaged in the Ruckus delivery mechanism," Berzack said. "The advent of more cloud technologies coming along allows Ruckus to establish a foothold in their certification and validation of partners."

Partners that do the necessary online training under the new specialization program, and hit what Giordano called "lightweight" subscription sales targets will get sever benefits under the new specialization program. Those benefits include upfront discounts in the form of promotional pricing for Ruckus cloud Wi-Fi subscriptions, MDF funds for partners that specialize in cloud and emphasize Ruckus Cloud Wi-Fi, and new lead generation resources.

The new lead generation scheme is designed to boost awareness of Ruckus Cloud Wi-Fi while allowing Ruckus to funnel leads to specific, cloud-focused partners, Giordano said. The program also comes with a new badge, as well as dedicated partner account managers, engineering and technical support for partners, he said.

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