Big Switch Networks Seeking Partners After New Launch

Last year was a transformation year for the software-defined networking (SDN) startup Big Switch Networks, which has been growing over 30 percent quarter-over-quarter sequentially for the past four quarters. BSN said it's taking 2015 to a new level with the launch of Big Cloud Fabric 2.5 in conjunction with a new channel partner program that executives said will double its partnership within the United States over the next few months.

The revamped partner program creates a 25 percent discount for channel VARs and an additional 10 percent for deal registration. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company is making available new marketing development funds (MDFs) for new partners in order to "kick-start" relationships and also will be dedicating partner relationship managers.

"We're making it a very attractive program in terms of margins, opportunity -- just making it a no-brainer to partner with Big Switch," said CMO Gregg Holzrichter. "We're making the program attractive to new partners who want to bring mature SDN solutions to their customers … We hope to close over 50 percent of our revenue through the channel in the first half, with a more aggressive goal for the year. "

[Related: New Big Switch CEO: Channel To Play Key Role In Our 'SDN 2.0' Strategy]

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Last year, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company partnered with Dell to release Big Cloud Fabric 2.0, touting it as the industry's only bare metal SDN fabric designed to combat legacy box-by-box networking. It also on-boarded more than 20 new technology partners and added 27 channel partners to help deliver hyperscale-inspired designs to a broader data center community worldwide.

On Jan. 28, BSN launched Big Cloud Fabric (BCF) 2.5, which includes enhancements in fabric analytics, cloud orchestration and for hypervisor environments. It supports VMware's vSphere server virtualization and integrates VMware's vCenter to automate network creation on the physical SDN fabric. It also supports current and future Dell open networking switches, including Dell S6000-ON.

The new partner program is designed to make it easier to position and sell BCF 2.5 into OpenStack as well as VMware environments, according to CEO Doug Murray. Going to market with Dell, he said, is going to make the channel and end user customers "sit up and take notice."

Bill Burger, director of business development for Edge-Core Networks, a BSN partner, said the "upgraded" partner program, tied together with the launch of BCF 2.5, is going to help the channel grow by attracting more customers.

"This is a very positive step," said Burger. "2.5 is increasing the attractiveness of the big cloud fabric solution to more customers in the big data space and enterprise space of private cloud build-out. The integration with the orchestration systems like open stack and cloud stack is what the customers want, so we see this as a very positive step forward … We've seen good traction from Big Switch."

Murray said they have about a dozen partners in the United States – a number he expects to double in 2015 because of the revamped program and BCF 2.5.

"Partnering in the United States is where we are really starting to invest more," said Murray, who touts his company as the market leader in bringing hyperscale data center networking technologies to a broader audience. "I expect [partner] numbers to double in the next few months."

Holzrichter said the revamped program is for partners looking for an edge in a networking practice or interested in "riding the wave" of bare metal switching. BSN is seeking partners interested in working alongside Dell with their branded white-box or open networking program.

"Enabling the Dell channel is going to be a really big opportunity," said Holzrichter. "With Big Cloud Fabric, this changes the economics of networking and allows channel partners to come in with a really differentiated solution, so I think the channel really going to be interested in this new approach. It's mature, it's proven and I think that's really what the market is waiting for in SDN."

NEXT: Dell Director Of Global Strategy Talks Opportunities For Channel

Adnan Bhutta, director of global strategy at Dell, said BCF 2.5 gives more flexibility to customers and will ultimately grow the channel by allowing partners to sell services.

"Traditional networking markets for partners have been becoming extremely competitive because everybody is selling the same solution from the big two vendors in the world, so with Big Switch and Dell it gives the partners the ability to create a very unique offering on which they can create a service practice and actually add more money in their pockets and pass on a tremendous amount of savings to their customers as well," said Bhutta.

Holzrichter said his company opened up a subsidiary in Otemachi, Japan, in December and is making massive inroads in the country around SDN.

In 2013, BSN partnered with the SDN focus with Japanese companies Net One Systems and CTC to address the growing demand in that country for Network Virtualization and SDN solutions. They saw Japan as the largest and most sophisticated international market for SDN. Holzrichter said Japan currently represents roughly 30 percent of its customer pipeline.