Ciena Plans Partner Program Redesign To Focus On Services, Value-Based Approach

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Ciena is updating its BizConnect partner program next month to place a greater focus on services and what its channel chief Nigel Williams calls partner "self-sufficiency."

The bulk of the changes being made in November are meant to transform BizConnect from being a predominately volume-based program to one based on value, according to Williams, vice president, global channels and strategic alliances at Ciena.

"This is definitely an evolution to a more value-based channel strategy, and there are couple things we are building in programmatically into the BizConnect program that aren't there today," Williams told CRN. "It's really about building in key elements that partners have told us they value, like services and self-sufficiency."


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Williams, a well-known networking channel executive thanks to stints at Cisco and Level 3 Communications, was tapped by Ciena last year to oversee its BizConnect program. Williams said the program today hosts roughly 250 partners worldwide.

Ciena, a Hanover, Md.-based network infrastructure specialist, has more tightly aligned itself to the IT and telecom channels since its 2009 acquisition of Nortel's former Metro Ethernet Networks (MEN) business. While roughly 80 percent of Ciena's business is still focused on the carrier space, Williams said the company is still gunning to grow its enterprise footprint, with BizConnect being at the heart of that effort.

"We are going to continue to maintain a focus on selling to carriers; that's our core business," Williams said. "But we see equal opportunity and double-digit growth in the enterprise space."

Several of the changes being made to the BizConnect program starting next month, Williams said, are meant to make partners more self-sufficient. This, he said, will be achieved by having partners collaborate with Ciena earlier on in the sales cycle and arming them with new network design and quoting tools for greater control over customer accounts and infrastructures.

Ciena already has design and quoting tools in place, but Williams said the revamped versions rolling out this year will be easier to use and were designed entirely based on partner feedback. Ciena also plans to offer more robust training programs around these tools, enabling more partners to use them.

"What we have heard from the partner community is that they wanted some level of increased self-sufficiency and greater enablement, especially around the areas of design tools and quoting tools," Williams said.

NEXT: Ciena's Services Push

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