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SD-WAN Provider Open Systems Shakes Up Its Strategy In Favor Of A 'Partner-First' Approach

Gina Narcisi

Open Systems, a nearly 30-year-old SD-WAN provider, wants to advance its presence in the U.S. and is doing so by becoming a channel-led provider, the company told CRN.

SD-WAN company Open Systems is changing up its strategy to put the channel first.

Originally based in Switzerland, Open Systems has a 28-year history of global success in the SD-WAN space, but the company wants to up its presence in the U.S. To do that, it will lean heavily on solution providers.

Open Systems has an aggressive goal to go from doing virtually no business through partners to having the channel account for 60 percent of its sales by the end of 2019. Matt Krieg, chief revenue officer of Open Systems, who is leading the company's channel efforts, wants more than 90 percent of the company's business to flow from the channel in 2020, he said.

[Related: 5 Things You Need To Know About How The SD-WAN Market Is Changing ]

"We have switched to a partner-first model," said Krieg, who joined the company in December from SD-WAN competitor Viptela, which is now owned by Cisco. "Within a month of me being on board, we were able to put a comp[ensation] plan that went from very direct to being 100 percent channel-controlled— there's no channel conflict at all," he added.

The company's sales teams are now 100 percent channel-neutral and free to direct deals through partners, he said. Open Systems has opened up three partner models: a partner-sourced model in which partners can bring Open Systems a lead and earn revenue; a partner-influenced model that lets solution providers work with the end customer; and a partner-led model that is a fully partner-driven approach to selling in which Open Systems stays on the back end to support those partners.

Master agent Avant is one of the first partners Open Systems has signed as it ups its channel efforts. Drew Lydecker, president and co-founder of Avant, said that upon learning about Open Systems' SD-WAN, he was "pleasantly surprised" and "a bit shocked."

"Their mentality is much different than traditional SD-WAN plays. Their agnostic approach to devices is extremely unique; it's almost a white-box set to whatever flavor a [customer] wants to choose," he said.

Avant, which has more than 50 SD-WAN suppliers in its portfolio, believes that Open Systems also differentiates itself with its white-glove managed service. "It's a much more managed service SD-WAN play and very custom, so it can adhere to the individual needs of an enterprise," Lydecker said. "From a global perspective, I've not seen that."

Open Systems sells its homegrown SD-WAN technology as a service. The SD-WAN function sits on top of the company's platform that includes baked-in security. "We have the ability to plug in the full security stack, including next-generation firewall, intrusion detection and endpoint monitoring," Krieg said.

To incentivize new partners, Open Systems is unveiling a series of new marketing assets for partners, said Luanne Tierney, chief marketing officer for Open Systems.  

The company also has plans to add more master agent partners, including Intelisys and Telarus, to reach more agents, as well as distributors, such as Tech Data, to reach more VARs.

"Because we offer SD-WAN as a service, these companies see us as a compelling way to generate monthly recurring revenue that everyone is looking to drive at this point," Krieg said.

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