Ixia's New Global Channel Chief Shakes Up Partner Program

Ixia, a provider of network monitoring and testing solutions, is rolling out a new global partner program aimed at driving consistency across the different partner bases it gained through a recent string of acquisitions, including that of network visibility specialist Net Optics.

The new partner program, along with Ixia's overall channel strategy, is being headed up by former Juniper Networks channel executive Lori Cornmesser, who joined Ixia in October as its first-ever worldwide channel chief.

Cornmesser said the new Ixia Channel Xcelerate partner program will formally bring together the hundreds of partners Ixia gained through its $190 million acquisition of Net Optics in October, along with those from its acquisitions of network monitoring specialist Anue Systems and network security provider BreakingPoint Systems in 2012.

[Related: Ixia Communications Poaches Former Juniper Exec As First Channel Chief ]

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"Partners were having a different experience based on what products they were selling and what regions they were from," Cornmesser said. "So part of this is to structure ourselves so that we can give more predictably in our channel model."

Cornmesser said the total number of global Ixia partners in the Xcelerate program, including legacy Net Optics, BreakingPoint and Anue partners, is 440.

The program is rolling out in phases, Cornmesser said, with each phase wrapping standardized discounts and partner incentives around different Ixia product lines. The first phase, for example, is attaching standardized discounts to Ixia's network visibility products, including its network access, network packet brokers, and application visibility solutions. The second phase, Cornmesser said, will do the same for Ixia's network testing offerings.

Partners in the program will be broken out into three tiers: Authorized, Preferred and Elite. They will be segmented by sales volume, but also by "value-based" factors, Cornmesser said, such as registering deals with first-time Ixia customers, breaking into Fortune 500 accounts, or the number of Ixia certified engineers and sales staff they have on their team.

As partners move up tiers, they will have access to more dedicated Ixia channel resources, along with increased product discounts and other perks, such as market development funds. Partners at each level, however, will have access to online sales training from Ixia.

The annual sales volume requirements are $500,000 at the Preferred level and $2 million at the Elite level. There is no volume commitment at the Authorized level.

Cornmesser said Ixia isn't disclosing exact discounts or partner margins at this time, but said they will be "very competitive."

Frank Lowthers, CEO of New Focus Networks, a San Diego-based solution provider who joined the Ixia channel through its Anue acquisition, said he recently attended a reseller roundtable with Ixia channel executives, including Cornmesser, and is glad to see them driving consistency across Ixia's disparate partner bases.

"[Ixia] has three or four different cultures between Anue, BreakingPoint, Ixia and Net Optics, and they are trying to meld them together into a single, comprehensive channel strategy. That's not easy, but they are taking the first steps," Lowthers said. "They are saying all the right things and seemingly doing the right things and have mandated to their direct sales teams that they want virtually every deal to go through the channel and, from my perspective, that's always a good thing."

Prior to joining Ixia in October, Cornmesser had an 11-year run at Juniper Networks, where she was most recently senior director of worldwide partner development. She told CRN at the time that she planned to leverage her 11 years at Juniper, and 18 years in indirect sales, to really fine-tune and drive forward Ixia's global channel strategy.

"Our vision around this partner program is that we want to take share in the market, we want to grow revenues with our partners and, ultimately, we want to make it easier to do business with us as a whole," Cornmesser said this week.

The goal, she added, is to get all Ixia and legacy Net Optics, BreakingPoint and Anue partners to transition to the new Xcelerate program within the next 30 days.