Netgear Enhances Channel, Releases New Gear At Interop

Netgear is poised to take Interop Las Vegas 2008 by storm this week, with key enhancements to its partner program and the release of a five new products designed to help SMBs grow.

First, Netgear has restructured its PowerShift Partner Program to offer partners increased profitability, enhance training resources and improve support for resellers.

According to Matthew Dargis, senior director of U.S. SMB sales for Netgear, the new PowerShift Program will include four tiers with membership criteria based on partner productivity. The basic tier, which all Netgear resellers are eligible for, provides benefits like U.S.-based technical support, sales and marketing assistance, and pre- and post sales support. Based on sales revenue, partners are eligible for the PowerShift Gold, Platinum and Platinum plus membership levels which offer added incentives like upfront product discounts, dedicated account managers, advanced network configuration technical support and Market Development Funds.

Key benefits of the program include volume incentive rebates, instant rebates through tier one distributors, access to mail-in rebates and other promotions, improved government and education discounts and a deal registration program. On the support side, resellers receive direct access to 24x7 device-level technical support and an improved risk-free product evaluation program. For sales and marketing, resellers receive a "where to buy" listing on Netgear's Website, marketing and sales toolkits, a welcome pack and a go-to-market toolkit. And for pre- and post-sales, Netgear partners receive network design and topology diagrams and access to the revamped Netgear PowerShift Partner Portal which provides access to online and advanced return material authorization, notification of product changes, improved Netgear University training modules, technical presentations and white papers, frequent webinars offering live seminars, training sessions, product launches, demonstrations and briefings.

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Resellers that achieve a minimum of $10,000 in annual networking revenue are eligible for the PowerShift Gold level, which adds upfront product discounts to the benefits offered at the basic membership level. And resellers that get higher levels of annually networking revenue can reach the PowerShift Platinum level and receive additional sales and marketing support, including a dedicated account manager, advanced network configuration technical support, pre-sales engineer support, market development funds, premier posting on the vertical section of "where to buy" on the Netgear Web site, joint sales call support and advanced product road map previews.

At the top of the heap is Netgear's premier partner level, the PowerShift Platinum Plus. That level is offered by invitation only and gives partners the highest available upfront discounts and all of the benefits received at the Platinum level.

John Grady, Netgear's senior director of SMB product marketing, said the Platinum Plus level, which requires $250,000 in annual networking revenue, can boost discount levels from eight percent to 12 percent.

Additionally, Grady said, Netgear moved support back to the U.S. from India, to better serve its VARs and customers.

VARs also receive a priority line that puts them in the front of the queue when they call, Dargis said.

"Time is money to these guys," Grady added. "We needed to make the call durations shorter."

Dargis said Netgear is also partnering with Media Defined to offer partners certifications and developing modular training courses, while also working on new benefits for certified and trained partners.

"Certification cannot mean $10,000 tuition and a week away from the office," Dargis said. "The training is really the key to solidifying a longer term relationship, but at the end of the day you also have to have the right products."

Reza Zarafshar, president of Advanced Computer Concepts, a McLean, Va.-based solution provider, said the program enhancements and additional training and certification opportunities are a welcome change. Advanced Computer Concepts has been a Netgear partners for the past seven years and is now a Platinum Plus partner.

"We welcome being able to take advantage of new programs and incentives," he said.

NEXT: Five New Products For Interop

Along with its channel enhancements, Netgear is also releasing several new products at Interop this week.

First up are three new switches: the ProSafe 24- and 48-Port Gigabit Smart Switches With Static Routing, the GS724TR and the GS748TR, and the ProSafe 24-Port Gigabit Smart Switch With Advanced Features, the GS724AT.

According to Vivek Pathela, Netgear's vice president of product marketing, the expansion of the ProSafe Gigabit Smart Switches targets mid-sized businesses that are growing at a steady pace and require advanced management features.

The new switches are covered by Netgear's ProSafe lifetime warranty and add new built-in security, higher QoS and high availability through an advanced set of features that includes Access Control Lists, 802.1x port authentication, rate limiting, IGMP snooping and Rapid Spanning Tree to help businesses grow out their networks. Additionally, the Web-based ProSafe Control Center offers management through a streamlined interface.

The new ProSafe 24- and 48-Port Gigabit Smart Switches with Static Routing provide static routing capabilities to offload inter-VLAN routing traffic from the core. Companies can deploy the GS724TR and GS748TR to optimize bandwidth efficiency by freeing up the router for WAN and security traffic. The switches offer either 24 or 48 10/100/1000 ports and two or four shared SFP ports. They support 32 static routes to enable inter-VLAN routing, managed broadcast storms more effectively and deliver tighter security.

The third switch, the Netgear ProSafe 24-Port Gigabit Smart Switch with Advanced Features (GS724AT) gives SMBs management capabilities and features typically found in fully managed switches without the added cost and complexity of a fully-managed solution. The GS724AT incorporates 24 10/100/1000 ports and four combination SFP ports for optional fiber connectivity to support advanced applications like security, ERP, wireless and VoIP. The switch also features ACL for increased security, Layer 3-based QoS for traffic prioritization, Auto Voice VLAN for deployment of VoIP and Rapid Spanning Tree for availability.

The new ProSafe Advanced Smart Switches are available now through VARs, e-commerce sites and direct marketers. The GS724TR lists for $925, while the GS748TR and GS724AT list for $1,665 and $575, respectively.

Netgear also unveiled a new six-bay small form factor desktop network attached storage (NAS) solution at Interop. The ReadyNAS Pro 1.5TB Gigabit Desktop Storage (RNDP6350), the ReadyNAS Pro 3TB and ReadyNAS Pro 6TB Gigabit Desktop Storage (RNDP6610) can offer centralized network storage for up to 200 users, Pathela said. The new NAS tools provide network attached storage across the LAN or WAN to store, backup and share digital data from Windows, Mac and Linux platforms. ReadyNAS Pro supports RAID 0, 1, 5, 6 and auto-expandable X-RAID2 to protect data against single-disk failure. It also features dual redundant Gigabit Ethernet ports for failover protection.

The ReadyNAS solutions are housed in a compact desktop form factor and support up to six SATA I or SATA II hard drives via six lockable, hot-swappable disk trays. Three USB 2.0 ports enable the connection of USB drivers or printers.

ReadyNAS Pro is backed by a five-year hardware warranty and will be available in the third quarter. List price starts at $2,000.

Lastly, Netgear jumped on the 802.11n wireless train and unveiled a new access point. The ProSafe 802.11n Dual Band Wireless Access Point (WNDAP330) is designed for SMBs and offers the speed and coverage of 5Ghz 802.11n wireless while also supporting legacy 802.11 a/b/g devices.

The new access point also incorporates 802.3af PoE support to eliminate cables and secures the wireless network with features including WPA, WPA2, rogue AP detection and 802.1x with RADIUS support. It also features a 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet port with Auto Uplink, a console port for local configuration and monitoring and three detachable antennas -- two 5dBi and one 3dBi.

The WNDAP330 is managed and configured through the ProSafe Control Center Web-based interface or via SNMP MIB I, MIB II and 802.11 MIB using network management software, like Netgear's ProSafe Network Management System. The ProSafe 802.11n Dual Band Wireless Access Point is available now for $475.

Overall, Zarafshar said Netgear's new releases will help him offer a broader portfolio to clients while also enticing new clients with a more robust offering. Advanced Computer Concepts services the mid-market, clients with 200 to 1,500 employees. Zarafshar said the new switches, access point and storage solutions helps him hit the "M in SMB more than the S."

"This will give us a wider set of options to serve our customers," he said. "Netgear has traditionally had a strong following in our customer segment. They ask for it by name, so this will help with that."

Zarafshar added that Netgear hits the mid-sized sweet spot mostly because of its lifetime warranty and reasonable prices compared to some of the larger networking vendors.

"Some of the other options may not be as attractive because of pricing," he said. "There's a level of trust with Netgear. When we go into a customer we can be confident that we can offer strong support and reasonable prices."