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Ciena Refreshes Partner Network, Now With An ‘Ecosystem’ Focus: Exclusive

Gina Narcisi

‘We started brainstorming, poring through how to build a program that doesn’t focus on partner recruitment but really focuses on embracing … these relationships, and we started building a program that embraces all partner types,’ Matt Cook, Ciena’s vice president of global partners, tells CRN.

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Ciena is launching a refreshed partner program that’s leading with an “ecosystem” model, the company’s channel leaders told CRN exclusively.

The telecommunications networking equipment and software services specialist wanted to relaunch its Ciena Partner Network to more closely resemble its sales motion, said Matt Cook, vice president of global partners for Ciena.

“The sales motion is usually one of relationships, it’s one of influence,” Cook said. “We started brainstorming, poring through how to build a program that doesn’t focus on partner recruitment but really focuses on embracing … these relationships, and we started building a program that embraces all partner types.”

This evolution from Ciena Partner Network (CPN) to CPNE—for “ecosystem”—respects the value that partners bring to the engagement, Cooks said.

[Related: The 5G Telecom Startup Companies Shaking Up The Market ]

Jay Jadeja, director of partner programs, said that some partners have trouble categorizing their own business so an ecosystem approach is a good one that doesn’t make them choose.

“One thing that I really liked about the program is having the ecosystem element where [partners] can be that different partner type based on what they’re trying to achieve. Sometimes, they could be influencing, other times they could be reselling … It’s better than us as a vendor trying to put them into one segment,” Jadeja said.

The program evolution translates to MDF and “BDF”—or funds that allow partners to invest in operational needs of the businesses to drive customer success. The relaunched program encourages investments, rewards resellers and will offer multiple tiers, Cook said.

Cook joined Ciena in 2020 and prior to that, he spent time at Armor Cloud Security as CRO and at Commvault as vice president of sales. He also spent seven years with Cisco Systems’ channel partner organization.

Jadeja, meanwhile, has spent the past 17 years at Ciena.

Cook and Jadeja are drawing from their experiences in the industry to bring the best elements of existing telecom and even software partner programs to life within the new Ciena program.

“We really combined the experience of what you see from some of the competitors as well as software vendors, while also having an appreciation for legacy Ciena, and together and we kind of came up with what works for Ciena,” Cook said.

The Hanover, Md.-based company said there will be a six– to 12-month implementation process for its existing partners into the new program.

“What we’re trying to do is make it simple for partners to understand and maximize their benefits very early on to be successful in this space,” Jadeja said.

Ciena said that about 50 percent of its enterprise business goes through solution provider partners, with the remaining 50 percent coming from its carrier infrastructure business.

Gina Narcisi

Gina Narcisi is a senior editor covering the networking and telecom markets for CRN.com. Prior to joining CRN, she covered the networking, unified communications and cloud space for TechTarget. She can be reached at gnarcisi@thechannelcompany.com.

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