NIC Provider Turns To Channel

The Level 5 partner program, announced Tuesday at Interop in New York City, gives reseller partners margins of 50 percent on sales of the vendor's Etherfabric EF1-21022T NIC cards, said Craig Easley, director of marketing for Level 5, Sunnyvale, Calif.

"This is a good opportunity for VARs to go back to their customers and re-address the hardware performance issue," sais Easley.

Ideal for high-performance computing environments, the 2 port, 1Gb/sec NIC hardware accelerates application performance in servers by anywhere from four time to 20 times faster, depending on the type of application being run, said Easley. The EF1's also enable 40 percent more connections to Web servers, he said. They start at about $500 per card, said Easley.

Upgrading server performance by manually trading out NIC cards can be a time consuming task, but the value add of the increased bandwidth and application performance delivered by the Level 5 NICs delivers return on investment fairly quickly, said Easley. Besides, upgrading the NIC of a server is still easier and less expensive than replacing the entire server itself, he said. The Level 5 program is a single-tier program that offers the standard 50 percent margin on NIC hardware and driver sales. Membership requires technical certification, which is free of charge via a Web-based education program, said Easley. There are no minimum inventory stocking requirements for members of the program, he said.

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As part of the program, Level 5 is changing its direct sales team into a field support and lead generation organization for partners, said Easley. Currently, Level 5 does about 90 percent of its business through OEM partners like Sun Microsystems, he said. The idea with the program is to grow channel sales of Level 5 NIC cards to the point were indirect channel revenue makes up a near equal portion of the vendor's revenue as OEM sales, a figure that represents about a half a billion dollar opportunity for resellers world wide, said Easley.


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