As you may have heard, Brocade is launching a new channel program at the end of this month to address our new, wider Fibre Channel/Storage and IP/Ethernet product portfolios. I have been asked whether our strategy is to utilize our entire spread of partners to sell all products, through all channels.
This raises an interesting topic of convergence, not just the convergence of the storage and IP infrastructures, but the convergence at the point of support teams, purchasing departments, technical teams, and also Channel partners’ strategic directions and areas of focus.
I do believe that over time networks will converge where it makes sense, and FCoE-based technologies are the first step to providing a strong case for consolidating the I/O sprawl that currently exists at the server edge to support server virtualization. But as far as customers are concerned there will be some time before the actual data center and IP networking teams decide whether or not to merge.
Now for channel partners this means that they are at cross roads as well and will need to make decisions which way to go in the future. We understand that not all partners have unlimited resources, certainly at this time in the market, and partners need to choose wisely which eggs to put in which basket. For the time being, I see that many of our channel partners have wisely decided to stay within their fields of expertise. If they have the skills, knowledge, and core competency with storage technologies, they must consider whether they will fully invest to build up the rest of their networking expertise. Likewise, partners that have traditionally sold Ethernet products may or may not choose to invest in learning data center SAN technologies at this point.
Brocade as a company is committed to helping partners in their decision making process of where they want to position themselves in this tectonic industry plate shift we are seeing driven by convergence in the data center. We are 100% committed to investing in channel education and enablement to support our partners that want to widen their skill sets and areas of expertise to address the full scope of data center product offerings and services.
Given the size of the entire networking market, there is an expanded opportunity for partners, regardless of focus area/product/service they choose. At the same time, I do believe that there is a huge opportunity for partners to invest early in building up end-to-end data center and infrastructure knowledge to become a top advisor to their customers. But only our channel partners know what works best for their business and customers. Rest assured, we are available to coach, advise, support, and be a best-of-breed partner to them.
I fundamentally believe that providing choice is good for partners, customers, and the industry overall. Brocade sees nothing but opportunity to grow and expand our business through a selective, yet more diversified and wider reaching channel, but the first step is to work to our channel partners’ existing strengths.
Brocade’s value proposition for channel partners has never been stronger or more compelling. These are very exciting times we live in, indeed!