Ixia's Cornmesser On Channel Growth: 'We're Not Taking Our Foot Off The Pedal'

A little more than a year after shifting its business model to focus on the channel, network application performance and security resilience software company Ixia is expanding the channel program it put in place.

Ixia's current Xcelerate program will now allow partners to sell across the entire portfolio of solutions, including virtualization, security and performance. The program will have the same three-level structure but will add a new layer of specializations, such as security or federal, which Vice President of Global Channel Sales Lori Cornmesser said would allow partners to brand and differentiate themselves in the market around their expertise.

Finally, Ixia is also expanding its partner enablement tools, including a new partner portal, training and additional sales support resources.

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Ixia launched its Xcelerate program in April 2014, after Cornmesser's hire in October the year prior. Since that launch, Ixia's partner community has grown from 150 partners to more than 500 today.

In an exclusive interview with CRN, Cornmesser said the past year was about building a channel foundation, and now Ixia is looking to grow its investments in the channel.

"2014 was the year of the foundation. 2015 is our year of investment and acceleration in our motions, and we've got some very lofty goals to continue to grow and enable our channel partners to take share in the market and capture new business. We're not taking our foot off the pedal," Cornmesser said.

Over the next year, Cornmesser said, partners can expect a more "deliberate focus" from Ixia on its growing channel. So far, that has included tripling the number of account managers, tripling the channel marketing capabilities and adding key executives, including a new CEO, that have a channel-first mentality, Joseph Zeto, senior director of product marketing, said.

"We're transforming the company. We were direct and now we're just putting more and more emphasis on the channel," Zeto said. "We just have this big momentum to transform the business to use the channel as a force multiplier to expand into enterprises. That's where we see the growth."

Frank Lowthers, president at San Diego-based New Focus Networks, said he is looking forward to being able to sell the full portfolio of Ixia solutions and being able to expand offerings with a single vendor partner. Lowthers said the latest program changes, paired with the addition of new CEO Bethany Mayer in August, help clarify the company's channel focus. "I think [partners will] all come away with a very significant increase in confidence in the long-term channel strategy," Lowthers said.

Ultimately, that focus will be a boost for both sides, he said. "It's going to be a win-win for everybody," Lowthers said. "At the end of the day, a direct sales guy can only touch so many accounts in a region, whereas if they expand the offering to channel partners you extend your reach."