Brocade's McGrath: We're Serious, It's The Year Of The Channel

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Brocade's McGrath admitted that, with some exceptions, there's still a big divide between Brocade's storage- and data center-focused partners and the IP networking solution providers it brought on post-Foundry.

But it's not necessarily Brocade's priority to create more cross-portfolio partners, he said. As Brocade competes with Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, Juniper and others for the converged data center infrastructure spend, all of its partners have opportunity around that convergence.

"I think the Foundry acquisition got a lot of our SAN partners to go acquire an IP practice or develop one organically, and some have been successful," he said. "But the overwhelming number of partners selling in the IP space actually don't sell our SAN products. The IP space is so much larger than the SAN space. We are actively selling into the data center, and we leverage our SAN [expertise], but the Ethernet fabric opportunity is primarily a data center opportunity and doesn't preclude non-storage partners."

ICI's Shepard, who is a member of Brocade's partner advisory board, said McGrath is the right choice for the channel chief role now because he's well versed in Brocade's direct sales history -- and thus the cultural shift toward embracing the channel -- as well as that same technology conversation Spicek was focused on.

But, he said, the IP products Brocade gained with Foundry are still too much of an afterthought for Brocade's sales and channel teams, who still prioritize around storage, data center and Brocade's important OEM relationships with HP, IBM and other manufacturers.

"They need to grow their IP business, and a lot of that is what to do with the channel," Shepard said. "They don't need to overload it with products -- they have them. The IP piece has to be front and center in the messaging. It can't be, 'Hey, oh, by the way, we have IP products, too.' "

McGrath doesn't plan to make any immediate changes to the Alliance Partner Network.

"It's been well received -- Barbara did a very good job of developing a platform" he said. "But I will dig in and optimize it as necessary. The priority is to do a good job with the partners we have and selectively add partners where we need them."


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