Brocade Revamps Partner Program With New Deal Reg, SDN Opportunities

Brocade this week made several updates to its channel program aimed at sweetening rewards and discounts for top-tier partners and enabling more solution providers to go to market with Brocade's software-defined networking (SDN) products.

The updated Brocade Alliance Partner Network program includes a new deal registration program and, for the first time, allows solution providers to sell Brocade's Vyatta line of virtual routers. The program also includes new partner training resources around SDN, including an SDN-focused North American partner road show Brocade will kick off in March.

According to Bill Lipsin, vice president of worldwide channel and global systems integrator sales at Brocade, the new Brocade partner program is designed to nudge partners toward the opportunities being created through SDN, a market IDC projects to be worth $3.7 billion by 2016.

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"Network virtualization and software-defined networking is becoming much more of a mainstream conversation," Lipsin said. "Customers are already showing an interest, so our next step is to arm our partners with the ability to answer some of those questions."

With the arrival of the new Brocade partner program, the company's Vyatta line of virtual routers, including its vRouter 5410, 5415 and 5420 models, will now be sold through the channel. The Vyatta line was already being sold through the roughly 100 solution provider partners Brocade gained with its 2012 acquisition of network virtualization startup Vyatta, Lipsin said, but not by the Brocade channel at large.

Brocade is offering a number of partner resources, including new training courses and pre- and post-sales support around SDN and Brocade vRouters, to help partners go to market with the Vyatta line.

Brocade's Select, Premier and Elite partners are all eligible to sell Vyatta, but they have to meet different requirements to do so. The lower-level Select partners are recommended to have one certified Brocade vRouter engineer on staff; Premier partners need to have two certified vRouter engineers on staff, and they will also need to meet a $25,000 annual revenue requirement; and Elite partners, meanwhile, need to have two certified vRouter engineers and two certified vRouter professionals -- who focus on pre- and post-sales efforts -- on staff as well as meet a $50,000 annual revenue requirement.

Brocade said it will offer free, Web-based partner trainings around the vRouter products in order for partners to earn these certifications.

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Rodney Turner, CEO of Layer 3 Communications, an Atlanta-based solution provider and Brocade partner, said Layer 3 is already taking steps to earn the new vRouter certification, since SDN and network virtualization are "where the market is moving."

"The thing I like about Brocade is that from a feature, function and product perspective, they are moving in a direction that's consistent with where we want to take our business," Turner told CRN. "From a manufacturer alignment standpoint, we are evolving our business from an SDN and virtualization perspective, and Brocade's strategy is complementing our own internal strategy."

Brocade's new Alliance Partner Network program also includes a revamped deal registration structure that offers bigger discounts to its Elite-level partners. The new structure will offer Brocade Elite partners a 15 percent discount off of Brocade's retail prices, rather than 10 percent as the company has offered in the past. The discount for mid-level Premier partners remains the same, while the discount for Select partners is actually dropping from 7 percent to 5 percent, Brocade said.

"We wanted to make sure we were building more differentiation between our partner levels and giving greater rewards to that top tier that has made significant investments in Brocade," said Raelyn Kritzer, director of global channel marketing at Brocade.

Also new is an additional 3 percent discount for all partners when they register a deal with a net new Brocade customer.

Brocade told CRN it plans to make other changes to its Alliance Partner Network in the second half of the year, including the launch of new in-depth partner specializations and new programs and rewards for partners investing in cloud and managed services.