CRN Exclusive: Talari Crowns Former Dell Exec As CEO, Plans To Go 100 Percent Channel

Talari Networks has named Dell veteran Patrick Sweeney as its new leader, and Sweeney plans on relying heavily on partners as the SD-WAN market takes off, the IT veteran told CRN.

"We're smack in the middle of a hot market. SD-WAN is really vital in enabling the promise of the cloud and critical applications, so as this market rapidly expands, moving toward a 100 percent channel model becomes essential to our fundamental success," Sweeney said.

Sweeney's first priority in his new role is channel maturity and growing Talari's footprint of partners. The channel-focused software-defined WAN specialist currently does more than 50 percent of its business through the channel, and Sweeney wants Talari to work with more MSPs, VARs, and agent partners through more training and programs for partners.

[Related: Talari President: SD-WAN Should Be A 'Small Part' Of Overall Solution Provider Offering]

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The channel is uniquely qualified to sell SD-WAN because customers need help operating a number of solutions from a slew of different vendors within their IT ecosystems. Many businesses are also distributed and rely on different connectivity providers across locations. Vendor-agnostic solution providers can help customers connect disparate solutions and carriers using technology like SD-WAN, Sweeney said.

At the same time, customers are becoming more risk-averse, and partners can better guarantee uptime and reliability for applications and the network with SD-WAN, which must become a part of every solution providers' portfolio, he said.

In the wake of consolidation within the SD-WAN market, such as Cisco's Viptela purchase and VMware's plans to acquire VeloCloud, Sweeney said that it's important for partners to trust their SD-WAN provider.

"You don't often see an IT market growing this fast," Sweeney said. "For partners working with us, they can feel safe knowing that any investment they make won't be wasted because SD-WAN is here to stay and it's part of everyone's future."

Before his new role with Talari, Sweeney served for 16 years as vice president of marketing and product management for security vendor SonicWALL, and then for Dell, which acquired SonicWALL in 2012. Sweeney also held management positions for Minerva Networks and Apple.

Sweeney said that his experience with SonicWALL and later Dell taught him that a relationship with the channel is a long-term commitment. For its part, Talari has decided that the channel is its future, he added.

"You can't put your foot in and take it out, and you can't pretend to be loyal. A channel partners' interaction with a customer is sacred, so [vendors] have to be responsive and reliable, and allow [partners] to be profitable and maintain those great relationships that they have to have with their customers," Sweeney said.

Sweeney is succeeding the vendor's former CEO Mark Masur, who will remain as chairman of Talari’s board of directors, according to the San Jose, Calif.-based company.