Throughout the existence of its Alliance Partner Network, Brocade has been unapologetically selective in its channel connections. Sure, it’s always maintained a Select group that can access the company’s products through distribution and purchase them for customers. But many of its channel resources have been dedicated to its Elite and Premier partners.
While the company has long worked with its distribution partners to recruit, manage, and enable those Select-tier partners, the company will look to bring certain benefits directly to Select partners – most notably, marketing tools and a new configurator.
Raelyn Kritzer, director of channel marketing at Brocade, said the company’s efforts are designed to help it understand which of its broader Select group of partners “are going to be the most valuable for Brocade in the long term.”
The company announced a new marketing hub for those unmanaged solution providers, giving Select partners access to pre-built but co-branded marketing campaigns, including advertising to templates for in-person events. Making this available, Kritzer said, is an extension of Brocade’s long-held channel philosophy that it is the responsibility of the vendor to provide partner enablement, a key tenet frequently espoused by former channel chief Barbara Spicek.
Kritzer said the company will also introduce later this month a new product configurator Web site, one that will be available to its Select partners. She added that it will be a simplified version of the company’s current configuration tool, one which is only available to the company’s Elite, Premier, and Distribution partners through a separate software license. The new configurator for Select partners will be publicly available, but is really only of particular use to the company’s channel partners, she added.
Kritzer said that although Select partners will be getting more benefits than before, the company is still squarely focused on its Elite and Premier partners. The efforts to offer more enablement to Select partners isn’t necessarily an effort to get more of those unmanaged partners elevated to the higher levels of the program, at least not en masse, she said
“We’ve always had a very selective program, and we still want to keep the program somewhat small to give those partners who jointly engage with us a competitive edge,” she said.
Lest anyone accuse Brocade of failing to dance with the ones that brought them, the Elites and Premier, the company has also introduced new tools for those partners in the form of a new partner program portal called APN Central.
“It’s a significant enhancement of our Web site, a single pane of glass for all partners to go into the portal and conduct their everyday business with Brocade,” Kritzer said.
Select partners will continue to have access to the current My Brocade partner portal site. The company has introduced a new pre-sales training program, to be made available through both APN Central and My Brocade, that will give all partners access to the company’s latest training offerings, with the ability to “test out” along the way to see how well the material is being absorbed. The pre-sales training modules launch today with the company’s campus network products, and Kritzer said it would be expanded over the course of this year, ultimately leading to new accreditations for channel professionals.
The company also announced that some of the additional enablement benefits announced last year for solution providers just joining the APN program will be extended to all of the company’s Elite, Premier and Distribution partners
“We continue to have a strong focus on vendor-led enablement for our partners, to help them build out new customer opportunities to ultimately increase their revenues,” she said.