With Brocade about to start a new fiscal year in November, I spoke with Bill Lipsin, Brocade’s VP, Global Channels and System Integrators, about the company’s channel strategy for the year ahead.
Q: There’s a lot of talk about the New IP. What is this? What does this mean for Brocade’s channel partners?
Bill: The networking industry is going through the most dramatic period of change we’ve seen in more than 20 years. With the emergence of mobile, cloud, big data and social business technologies, customers require a new way of building and managing their networks. IDC has coined this new platform of technologies the 3rd Platform. They denote the 1st Platform as the era when the mainframe and associated technologies dominated the market. The 2nd Platform was represented by client/server computing. But to meet today and tomorrow’s requirements, customers must migrate to the 3rd Platform.
Networks that are designed for the requirements of these accelerating trends of mobile, cloud, big data and social (for the 3rd Platform) are known as the New IP. The New IP provides a more dynamic, automated capability based on leveraging networking software and virtualization. It allows customers to exploit best-of-breed technologies based on open architectures and open ecosystems and not be locked into any one vendor and their limitations. This open philosophy and design approach is where Brocade is investing. These investments and making the New IP a reality is what will create new opportunities for Brocade channel partners.
Q: How would you summarize your channel strategy for the coming year?
Bill: Our focus is on equipping partners to deliver an exceptional experience for their customers, with existing networks as well as by capturing opportunities presented by the transition to the New IP. We’re executing on this strategy with differentiated technologies and solutions, and helping partners redefine how customers use the network within the data center and at the edge. We’re investing in providing the building blocks for cloud offerings so that partners can deliver solutions covering both cloud and on premise solutions. And we’re enabling our partners with new services skills from design through implementation, post-sales support and professional services. This is more than just deeper Brocade skills. It also includes interoperability with other vendors’ equipment allowing Brocade partners to optimize the customer’s experience at every touch point.
Q: What do you see as Brocade’s key differentiators for the channel?
Bill: Three factors in particular set Brocade apart from other vendors.
First, we’re constantly working to make it easy to partner with us. We have a straightforward channel program. We work to build solid relationships making it easier for partners to engage with Brocade at every level. And we don’t compete with our partners – no Brocade Cloud or broad professional services practice.
Second, we have a strong track record of innovation. We continue to lead in bringing to market disruptive technologies designed to help customers manage their businesses more effectively. Brocade pioneered Ethernet fabrics. Brocade created fiber channel storage networking. We have the most widely deployed virtual router in the industry. The Brocade Vyatta vRouter, which came out in 2006, has been downloaded over 1.5 million times. We are aggressively expanding our software networking capabilities. In 2014 we’re setting new benchmarks for open, scale-out and automated networking across the data center and edge.
Third, Brocade has a unique financing option with Brocade Network Subscription. This enables customers to acquire infrastructure using Opex with a monthly subscription or consumption model instead of having to tie up a lot of Capex. Our partners are paid up-front as if this was a Capex transaction.
Q: Brocade will be launching its FY15 Alliance Partner Network (APN) program for the channel in early November. Can you give us a preview of key changes?
Bill: We’re making changes to our APN program that will make Brocade even easier to do business with. For instance, partners will no longer have to wait to accrue MDF or rush to spend their MDF if they’ve got a great plan to generate business. We are implementing a new, proposal-based MDF model. We will be leading the charge to sell software along with other Brocade solutions.
Q: What advice would you give partners who want to accelerate their businesses with Brocade this coming year?
Bill: Software networking is happening. Carriers, service providers and others are already investing heavily in software. Take advantage of Brocade’s industry-leading solutions, training and other programs to ensure you’re competent in physical, virtual and hybrid solutions and don’t get left behind.
Editor’s note: To learn more about how Brocade is making it easier than ever for APN partners to grow with Brocade in FY15, please participate in Brocade’s November 4th partner webcast. Invitations will be sent this week (week of October 13). If we’ve missed you, or if you have any questions about accessing the webcast, please email email@example.com.