QLogic Formalizes Channel Program For InfiniBand VARs

The new SignatureHPC program, an offshoot of its Signature channel program, is aimed at providing a formal training, recruitment, support and rewards program for solution providers looking to take advantage of a fast-growing InfiniBand market, said Frank Berry, vice president of marketing for the Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based storage vendor.

That market for InfiniBand products had been growing 40 percent per year until the recent economic downturn, thanks to the expansion of high-performance computing, from aerospace to research and, more recently, to industrial users, Berry said.

Last spring, the InfiniBand Trade Association, quoting a report from analyst firm The Taneja Group, said the market could have a cumulative annual growth rate of up to 70 percent, in part because other connectivity solutions such as 10-Gbit Ethernet and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) could not match the bandwidth and latency characteristics of InfiniBand.

The market is at a point where vendors like QLogic need a systematic program to address the needs of its users and partners, Berry said. "Otherwise, the industry works like a start-up, with a DVAR (direct VAR) model that works with any customer," he said. "Solution providers need a trusted partner like QLogic. Other storage vendors have introduced InfiniBand products, but partners need a structured program."

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That's true, said Kevin Schlabach, director of partner alliances at Appro International, a Milpitas, Calif.-based solution provider that works in the HPC market with InfiniBand and 10-Gbit Ethernet products.

QLogic's program formalizes a lot of what Appro has been doing with the vendor for some time, Schlabach said. "I wanna say, it's modeled on what they have been doing with us," he said.

While Appro brings QLogic in when working certain deals with customers, it doesn't want to drag the vendor's people into every sales and design meeting, Schlabach said.

QLogic has a good sales development team, and Appro hopes to use it more for lead generation under the new program, Schlabach said. "QLogic doesn't sell to end users," he said. "But it does pull partners into the deal, and does it fairly."

Schlabach said his company's InfiniBand business increased in 2008, and has a good pipeline of business for 2009. "InfiniBand demand has been increasing, and people are getting familiar with it," he said. "It's mainly because processors are getting more and more dense in servers with four, eight, or 16 cores."

QLogic's SignatureHPC program offers registration discounts, back-end rebates, no-cost demo units and exclusive promotions to solution providers, Berry said.

It also offers formal sales and technical certification programs, and a series of support features, including market development funds and dedicated sales and marketing support, he said.