Last month, I packed my oversized bag and took off around the world. Starting on the East Coast, I first got my temperature level reset as I hit the arctic cold winds in New York and Boston. Fortunately, I was greeted with very warm welcomes from our business partners as I met with a number of them for strategic discussions. When we launched the Alliance Partner Network Program (APN) in May, we committed to a couple of key cornerstones of the program around quality and return on partnership and we got numerous “thumbs ups” and even applause from partners on execution to date.
Many of our conversations with partners focused on the topics of convergence, virtualization and cloud computing and I was pleased to hear that partners have a lot of appreciation for our open ecosystem approach and feel comfortable with Brocade’s direction and vision. Even The VAR Guy confirmed that for me in a write-up on his site. By the way – don’t ask me – I am not allowed to say who he is.
From the East Coast, I jetted off to Middle East with Dubai being my first stop. I was really hoping to escape the cold, but it was raining in Dubai, so no luck there. Business partners in Middle East do not beat around the bush and I had many a good discussion around addressing very specific market issues such as network infrastructure investment. The key takeaway here is that Brocade’s technology leadership is widely recognized in the Middle East and most partners are curious about how we will invest and continue to grow in the region. For more on this, check out this piece that appeared in Arabian Business.
Next stop: Istanbul, the city on the Bosphorus Strait that runs between Europe and Asia. We kickstarted the relationship with a new distributor for Turkey and met a full set of new resellers in this exciting, fast-growing marketplace in Europe. Here, we received a ton of positive feedback on our Professional Services (PSP) and Support Delivery (SDP) Programs, which provide a means for partners to provide services-based offerings to end customers. As a side note, we will continue to invest in those areas and programs, especially for the international markets. As I’ve mentioned, Istanbul is a fast-paced city and the taxis are no exception – there’s no other place where you’ll feel the need to write your last will and testament after five minutes in a taxi.
From there, I went to Warsaw, Poland, where I was back in the cold with snow in abundance. While the food is heavy to compensate for the cold, the conversations with partners were equally substantial and it seems that our strategy for Eastern Europe is proving successful and partnerships are coming along strong.
Final summary of the trip:
1) I definitely beat Phileas Fogg and Passpartout as far as trip length, but admittedly the transportation methods have slightly improved over the years.
2) As a vendor, the one thing you need to know, realize and address in your strategy is that requirements by geography and even territory differ greatly and while having one common program is a good thing, there does needs to be some level of localization. The more time you spend understanding the market, the higher your credibility with partners.
3) Partners want one common thing: Best-of-breed technology in an open, flexible architecture.
4) Vertical, proprietary solutions degrade partners from solutions players back to product movers and no channel partner wants to go there.
What can I say? What a wonderful world of Channels!