Enterasys To Partners: Data Center, Wireless, Physical Security Dominate

What's Enterasys' No. 1 message for partners?

"We're growing," said Charlie Van Pelt, Enterasys' director of channels and business development, North America. "We are actively and aggressively growing our business through our channels and through our alliance partners. That's what we're emphasizing."

Enterasys recently wrapped up a successful Americas Partner Conference, held earlier this month in Puerto Rico. On the docket, according to Van Pelt, was making sure partners understood that Enterasys' 2011 Advantage Partner Program -- which the vendor revamped in January -- is its most channel-friendly initiative yet, and Enterasys will attack opportunities with solution providers in three key areas: data center, wireless and physical security.

Of those areas, it's physical security, including IP surveillance, that'll be newest for Enterasys solution providers.

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"It's a new area where we see a lot of things going on," Van Pelt said. "It's just beginning to kick in. It's really an old-school, analog-driven business and all of that is moving to IP -- all those big security installations. We're just at the tip of the iceberg in the way that's going to go."

When Enterasys started beating the physical security drum, Van Pelt said, it learned that a number of its existing networking and data center partners already had practices there -- and were excited about the possibilities.

"There are partners we have out there that didn't know we're getting into that space and have had some success in that area," he said. "We told them, 'We want to add your story to what we're doing and it's time we put all of that together.' They're on the forefront of the conversation."

Enterasys' physical security business will focus on infrastructure, and Enterasys plans to bundle its solutions with partner vendors specializing in areas such as surveillance cameras, door locks, digital signage and access control products.

Heading up Enterasys' physical security practice is Kevin Brooks who, like Van Pelt, joined Enterasys in January. The company has seen an influx of channel-facing executive talent in recent months, the most recent being Ram Appalaraju, vice president of marketing. Appalaraju joined Enterasys in April following 18 months as senior vice president of marketing for Meru Networks.

On the data center side of the business, where Enterasys is more entrenched, the company will continue to focus on the switches and other offerings that incorporate CoreFlow2, Enterasys' flow-based customer ASIC design. CoreFlow2, designed for establishing a flow between two devices and then assigning and enforcing policy based on that flow, was in early April introduced into lower-end Enterasys switching products for the first time.

Enterasys also maintains a healthy complement of wireless products, which were brought over from Enterasys part-owner Siemens Enterprise Communications and are now fully integrated into Enterasys' product portfolio.

"A lot of people have not known we were in the wireless space, and we heard that a lot at the conference," Van Pelt said. "Not only are we in that space but we're seeing a lot of growth in our existing channels."

NEXT: Enterasys' Vendor Alliances Will Help Channel

Enterasys in July 2008 was merged with Siemens Enterprise Communications as part of a joint venture between Siemens and the Gores Group, which was Enterasys' previous owner and controls a 51 percent stake in the combined venture.

Years ago, there had been discussion of Enterasys' products and partner programs being folded into the larger Siemens Enterprise Communications portfolios, but the two units have remained largely separate and, according to Van Pelt, will stay that way.

"We have our own channel, and continue to have our own channel and drive business through our own channel," Van Pelt said. "It's going to continue to be a separate entity, run independently of Siemens, but they're a sister company so we do work closely together."

Sometimes there are opportunities that benefit from joint Siemens-Enterasys engagement, but keeping the two programs separate is often helpful for Enterasys' channel growth. A number of solution providers, for example, carry unified communications products from Avaya or Microsoft or Cisco that compete with Siemens' own UC platform but that doesn't stop them from carrying Enterasys products in different segments, Van Pelt said.

The other big channel initiative for Enterasys going forward is expanding its vendor alliance partnerships, Van Pelt said -- those vendors that have product sets that complement Enterasys' own and are willing to work together on bundled solutions for sale through the channel. Palo Alto Networks and Polycom were among the vendor allies Enterasys hosted in Puerto Rico.

"We believe in best-of-breed and giving the best of both worlds," he said. "We want to give our partners the opportunity to do that. We don't have the firewall piece or the video piece, so it's important partners are able to offer best-of-breed across the board. Things are moving forward for partners there."

Van Pelt's role is unique at Enterasys, he said, because he focuses both on solution provider relationships and on strategic vendor alliances. He said channel partners and vendor allies told Enterasys during the partner conference that the company's marketing story isn't what it could be, and in that regard, his team will be working closely with Apparalaju's to pump up Enterasys' profile.

"I think you'll see a lot of strength as a result of the way we're putting things together," Van Pelt said.