CRN Exclusive: Brocade Channel Chief On Future With Arris, Ruckus-Brocade Integration, And How Partners Will Benefit

Brocade Channel Chief On Company's Future

Brocade Communications channel chief Sandra Glaser Cheek said partners "can feel confident" in the future of the company with Arris International set to acquire Brocade-Ruckus later this year.

"We had heard that many of our partners were in a wait-and-see mode because where would we end up?" said Glaser Cheek in an interview with CRN. "Now that we know where we're going and it's going to a very well-funded, large company – we all feel super confident that we have a good home now."

Glaser Cheek also spoke about where the Brocade-Ruckus integration process stands, whether Ruckus will become an independent company inside Arris, and the benefits of the acquisition for partners.

Will Brocade-Ruckus be operated as an independent company within Arris or become part of the broader organization?

From what we understand, nothing is finalized, but we will be an independent business unit within Arris. None of the naming conventions have been determined yet, but it's likely that it will be something familiar to our partners and customers.

Does Arris' channel strategy differ from Ruckus or can partners expect the same?

It's different and it's not different. They are primarily a channel-based company, but their channel tends to be service providers. They have home gateway connectivity and set-top box, that is really where their business is. So their channel partners are the AT&Ts, the Comcasts of the world, and Arris sees this as a way to grow in the enterprise, and where they do not have business right now is in the enterprise.

Should partners expect any changes in programs or incentives once Arris closes on Brocade-Ruckus?

In CRN, Arris CEO Bruce McClelland said what [partners] can expect is what the Ruckus channel looks like now. Arris does not play in the enterprise and they don’t want to dictate how we go to market. The channel will remain our primary go-to-market as a Ruckus business unit. … Our partners and customers can expect to see the Ruckus channel they know and love.

So Arris acquired Ruckus to get into the enterprise market?

Why they've acquired Ruckus is an opportunity to continue to expand and grow their company and they don't have businesses that deal with the enterprise. So we will be the business unit that is now helping to grow Arris into the enterprise.

What message do you want to get out to Brocade-Ruckus channel partners now that Arris is set to acquire you?

That we have a permanent home now that partners can feel confident about. We had heard that many of our partners were in a wait-and-see mode because where would we end up? Would we be acquired by another strategic vendor versus private equity investor? Now that we know where we're going and it's going to a very well-funded, large company – we all feel super confident that we have a good home now.

What do you think the benefits will be for channel partners in becoming part of a larger vendor like Arris?

Service provider is a big part of the Ruckus business. We have a really robust service provider business. That's where you'll probably see – not immediately because we're focused on the enterprise, Arris' business tends to be the consumer home – we'll become a much more important relationship to our service provider partners.

Are you still going to lead the Brocade-Ruckus channel team?

None of that's been really announced – what the leadership team will look like. What has been announced is that Dan Rabinovitsj will lead the Ruckus business unit as an Arris company.

Officially, what businesses units from Brocade-Ruckus are going to Arris?

The intent is that Ruckus business unit, which is now Ruckus Wireless plus the ICX switching line from Brocade – that internally we have been calling our Network Edge Business – that is the Ruckus business that we'll be moving into Arris.

Did integration slow down between Brocade and Ruckus over the past few months?

The integration stopped when the Broadcom acquisition was announced. So we were mid-integration and we didn't end up integrating back-end systems and all of those things we were looking to do. We've done a good job in communicating to our partners, really giving them the motivation and incentives to keep them.

What was the partner strategy following the Broadcom acquisition announcement?

It was really all about partner retention for us during this uncertain time.

Now that we know where we're going, we have a lot of partner retention, incentives and investments in place for this quarter that we hope will start to accelerate. Now we know where we're going, it's go out and accelerate and we're going to reward you for that.

Did Brocade-Ruckus take a revenue hit over the past few months?

We were actually pleasantly surprised that it could have gone really south, but it didn't. We did have a lot of partners who for this quarter were in wait-and-see mode. It did impact our sales, but not to the degree that it could have. We are all coming out of the quarter pretty pleased.

Can you give us a timeline of what will become of Brocade-Ruckus, Broadcom and Arris in 2017?

So Broadcom will acquire Brocade; we anticipate that will happen in May, June or July. We anticipate that within 30 days of that the Arris acquisition of the Ruckus business unit will take place. So we will become Broadcom for 30 days, then we will move over to Arris.

Is Ruckus headquarters staying the same?

Yes. Will we remain a California-based company.

Do you think Arris will allow Ruckus to expand its M&A arm?

As far as the acquisition of other companies that expand the enterprise portfolio, why not? But I can't speak for them. But Arris is a growing, profitable, publicly held company – [with] this acquisition it's putting a stake in the ground saying, 'We're looking to expand and grow into the enterprise with this acquisition.'

Do you have any channel initiative plans for 2017 after the Arris acquisition?

My hope is channel-wise that we can gain an agreement internally that says, 'Let's come up with something consistent through the rest of the year, even if we're switching the company ownership.' So the programs, the enablement, the marketing, the support – everything that we provide to our partners – my goal is to have consistency but at the same time, start looking at 'what does this new Ruckus company look like and what can we do that's new and innovative.'

How important were partners for Brocade-Ruckus over the past few months?

We are so grateful to our partners for sticking with us. This has been a phenomenal testament to the go-to-market that Ruckus has had.

It's been hard for everyone all around during this time, both internally and with our partners, but now that we know where we're going, we can start mobilizing. And we can do that before the acquisition closes, we can start planning and looking at what we want to do.