San Jose, Cal.-based Brocade Communications has named former CA Technologies channel chief Bill Lipsin as its new vice president of channel and global systems integrator sales.
Lipsin replaces Regan McGrath, who will now head up the company’s operations in the Americas. In addition to his time heading up CA’s channel activities, Lipsin most recently headed up global channels at network security vendor Arbor Networks, and has a background with Bay Networks and IBM.
But it’s a stint on the other side of the fence, leading a solution provider organization after running sales and marketing for IBM Canada, that most heavily informs his channel leadership philosophy.
“I really came to understand how what we coming from the vendor side translated differently into the channel than the vendors understand,” Lipsin said of his time on the channel side.
Like any new channel chief, Lipsin said his early priorities in his new role include getting out and meeting as many partners as possible, and gathering feedback from as many perspectives as possible. But he already has some firm ideas about where he’d like to see the company’s partners focus.
For the most part, Lipsin says he intends to “stay the course” with the strategy laid out by McGrath and Barbara Spicek before him. That approach has been one of selective channel-centricity, focused on enabling and advancing key partners, but not on building a “big tent” channel program that the company feel leads to margin erosion and value-add dilution for all involved.
But there are some areas where he’d like to increase the company’s focus with its partners, and build on growing opportunities. First of all, he said, he’d like to see Brocade and its partners turn up the volume around data center transformation.
“We want to help our partners lead thought leadership around things like software-defined network and the software-defined data center, and help them translate those concepts into activities,” Lipsin said.
The company is helped here by the fact that “most data centers already have Brocade fabric installed, whether they know it or not,” due to the company’s OEM agreements. Brocade was also the first networking out of the chute to demonstrate support for VMware’s new NSX network virtualization platform, including a live demo at last week’s VMworld, where NSX was formally introduced.
Public sector is another area of focus, both in the federal space where Brocade has traditionally been solid, and in more green field opportunities in local and regional government and education.
While Brocade has offered its Brocade Network Subscription network-as-a-service for some time now, Lipsin said it’s an area where he wants to see partners get more involved. BNS moves purchasing networking infrastructure from a largely capital expense to a largely operating expense. Customers pay Brocade a monthly fee for their infrastructure, and partners get their margin upfront from Brocade.
“It’s gold for our customers, gold for our partners, and gold for us,” Lipsin said of BNS. “We have won customer situations where we would have challenged without it. In competitive deals, we have significant wins because of BNS.”
The service approach also allows customers to ratchet up or down their infrastructure on 60 days’ notice, making it an attractive and flexible option for companies that have peaks and valleys in their network requirements.
Lipsin joins the company’s channel program as it finishes what he described as “our best quarter ever in the Americas,” and that means more opportunity for the partners he now manages.
“Brocade is hot right now, and partner can share in that heat with both great margins and additional market share.”