Aruba Fattens Up Deal Registration, Platinum Discounts

Aruba Networks this week confirmed a number of additions to its channel partner program, including more comprehensive deal registration and greater discount rewards for upper-tier partners.

Aruba PartnerEdge launched three years ago and these days numbers more than 400 VARs. The challenge now is getting it to better empower partners, suggested Bob Bruce, vice president of worldwide channel sales.

"One thing I sat down and huddled with the team on is how to make sure partners who spend the time, effort and money with Aruba know the efforts we're putting into this and know that they're going to be rewarded with opportunities downstream," Bruce told CRN this week. "We've ensured we've done that and we've made sure we have a program that is world-class."

Starting Nov. 1, Aruba partners will have access to a bulked-up deal registration program that offers bigger discounts, according to Aruba. Deal registration requirements are also clearer-cut: partners can register opportunities by either introducing a deal to Aruba -- a new customer or a new opportunity with an existing customer -- or taking the lead on a deal's sales cycle, be it through providing bill of materials, the network design, or something else that shifts the sales legwork to the partner instead of Aruba.

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"We've had a lot of feedback from partners over the last couple of years that they would like the program to be more well-defined," said Juila McConaughy, Aruba's director of channel operations. "They want to understand: 'If I do X, I get Y,' and have there be less discretion in the program."

Next: Platinum Partner Benefits

Deal registration is also automated through Aruba's partner portal, according to the vendor, with stated requirements as to what documentation has to be handed over to Aruba to be registered.

"It's not just a bunch of e-mails going back and forth that get lost," Bruce explained. "I think we can do this as good as anybody now."

Aruba's platinum partners will now also see higher discounts for meeting or exceeding annual sales targets. Aruba declined to offer numbers on what those discounts are but Bruce described them as "lucrative" and "attainable."

As a third new addition to the partner program, Aruba's gold- and silver-level partners will see greater access to marketing funds. Aruba is also launching a program called MarketingEdge which will offer partners the ability to purchase branded marketing materials and access co-marketing opportunities with the vendor.

Demo and lab equipment will also be offered at a greater discount than before, according to Aruba.

Next: "Like VoIP In The Late 90s"

Despite the land grab happening in the wireless channel right now, Bruce said Aruba is less focused on adding new partners to the Aruba program and more interested in growing opportunities with existing partners. Channel opportunity for enterprise wireless and mobility solutions is at an all-time high, he noted.

"It reminds me a lot of VoIP in the late 90s. It's technically quite detailed and there was a unique partner set that drove the value-add associated with it," he said. "It's not a commodity-type sale, and I think there's a limited subset of partners in the community that have the expertise and the desire for it."

Aruba's channel sales now account for 92 percent of its overall revenue, whereas in the middle part of the decade the numbers were closer to 80 percent.

"We have a lot of capacity to sell more product within the partner community that we have gained in the past couple of years," Bruce said. "We have to empower them to grow their business."