Extreme, Enterasys Formalize Joint Partner Program, Expect Big Channel Growth Ahead

Extreme Networks Wednesday rolled out a channel program that formally joins its partner base with that of networking vendor Enterasys, which it bought less than a year ago for $180 million.

The new program, called the Extreme Partner Network (EPN), is designed to boost partners' services revenue and sweetens Extreme's deal registration and partner incentive programs.

"We put these two companies together in November and in seven months we have completely integrated the two organizations," said Theresa Caragol, vice president of global channels at Extreme. "So we have officially been one company for a while now but, for the partners, we are launching our unified Extreme Partner Network."

The new program joins the legacy Enterasys and Extreme partner bases, which had been operating separately under their respective programs up until now. The Extreme Partner Network, according to Caragol, will simplify the partner sales process, with a single distribution network, a combined product portfolio and a combined partner segmentation and rewards system.

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Caragol said the combined Extreme and Enterasys partner base consists of 2,700 solution providers globally and 1,400 in North America.

Extreme and Enterasys partners largely cheered the merger last year, which effectively doubled Extreme in size and, according to some analysts, catapulted the San Jose, Calif.-based company to the No. 4 spot in the global Ethernet switching market. Solution providers told CRN that the two companies' product portfolios, for the most part, complemented each other well and that they expected minimal overlap between the two sets of products.

Ed Waldroop, co-founder and CEO of Personal Computer Systems (PCS), a Louisville, Tenn.-based solution provider, said this has definitely been the case. Although Enterasys had always been strong in areas such as wireless, the acquisition helped PCS broaden its reach into network management and other markets where Extreme has traditionally thrived, he said.

"The combination of the companies has really broadened the product line and enhanced it for us," Waldroop, a legacy Enterasys partner, told CRN. "I think it's been a fabulous combination and merging of the two companies."

Under the Extreme Partner Network, partners will be segmented into four tiers: Diamond, Platinum, Gold and Silver. Partners will be placed into these tiers based on both their sales volumes and the number of Extreme pre-sales certifications they hold.

Extreme said the annual sales volume commitments for North American partners are $2 million for Diamond partners, $1 million for Platinum partners and $500,000 for Gold partners. There is no volume requirement for Silver partners.

Extreme is offering three types of pre-sales certifications: the Extreme Sales Professional (ESP), the Extreme Design Professional (EDP) and the Extreme Solution Engineer (ESE). To reach Diamond status, North American partners must hold at least three of each of these certifications. At the Platinum level, they must hold at least two of each and at the Gold level they must hold one of each.

Silver partners are not required to attain any pre-sales certifications, but they are listed in Extreme's online partner locator if they hold at least one ESP and one EDP.

All certifications can be achieved either through a free in-person or online training, Caragol said.

NEXT: Extreme's New Partner Services Programs

Also new in the Extreme Partner Network is a services program that lets partners either resell Extreme's professional and support services or offer their own services directly to the end customer. Through the ExtremeWorks program, partners are paid for reselling Extreme's own maintenance services and can then rely on Extreme to provide the 24-by-7 support to that end customer.

Partners can sell their own branded services to the customers and provide that front-line support through what's called the Extreme PartnerWorks program,.

"In North America, legacy Extreme had PartnerWorks, but legacy Enterasys only sold services directly that they fulfilled," Caragol said. "So now we are adopting that globally and if a partner wants to do services, they can either resell our services, they can do tier one support, or they can do tier one and tier two support. We will enable [them] as long as they have the right capabilities to do that."

Waldroop said the new services opportunities under the Extreme Partner Network is a game-changer particularly for partners.

"Just in the last couple of months, we have opened up a professional services practice and we are doing not only our own professional services now on installations that we sell, but contract work for Extreme in other cities and other states," Waldroop said. "For us, so far, the [merger] has been good in every way."

The revamped Extreme Partner Network also includes a new growth rebate program that rewards partners for achieving year-over-year growth in revenue. Sandra Glaser Cheek, Extreme senior director of global partner strategy, programs and enablement, said Extreme is expecting partners' businesses to grow faster than they have in the past, because of the expanded product portfolio created through the Extreme-Enterasys deal.

"On dollar one past [partners'] net revenue fiscal year 2014, we will start paying a rebate and it’s a sliding scale rebate anywhere from 5 to 10 percent," Glaser Cheek said.

Other elements of Extreme Partner Network include a global deal registration program open to all Extreme partners, a single North American distribution network through distributors Tech Data, Jenne, Westcon and ScanSource along with a new unified PartnerNET portal.

Extreme, according to Caragol, has seen an uptick in interest from larger network system integrators since the Enterasys deal. She said partner recruitment is a major priority for Extreme in the coming year.

"We are getting interest from more and larger integrators -- network integrators and data center integrators -- than in the past," Caragol said.

Another major initiative and aim of the program, Caragol said, is to enable partners to sell across both the legacy Extreme and Enterasys portfolios. To do this, Extreme is hosting a partner bootcamp that helps familiarize and train partners on the end-to-end product lineup.

According to Glaser Cheek, 1,100 partners have completed the traveling partner bootcamp in the past four months.

"When you look at our total partner base of 2,700, it's just staggering – just the interest partners have in being cross-enabled to sell the whole portfolio," she said.

The launch of the new Extreme Partner Network comes just a week before Extreme kicks off Global Partner Conference in Las Vegas.