Silver Peak is reworking its channel program to better prepare partners for the SD-WAN market opportunity, which is much larger than traditional WAN optimization, and to assist them in making deployments which will be much less technical and complex than in WAN optimization.
Santa Clara CA-based Silver Peak, which originally built its business around WAN optimization, has launched a new Global Partner Program designed to assist partners with software-defined WAN. Last year, Silver Peak introduced its software-defined Unity architecture, an intelligent WAN fabric designed to unify the enterprise network with the public cloud. It sees the software-defined opportunity as massively larger than traditional WAN optimization.
“We are doing this for a new market opportunity around software-defined WAN, a market which is exponentially bigger than WAN optimization was in the past,” said Bob Bruce, Silver Peak’s senior vice president of worldwide channel sales.
Bruce emphasized that the shift to SD-WAN isn’t a radical shift away from their traditional business model, but a natural evolution responding to market forces.
“For our channel partners that are focused on WAN optimization, it’s a logical extension to extend to software-defined WAN,” he said. “Our traditional partners are embracing this. It’s a logical next step in terms of the technology. It’s not like being in wired networking and going from there to wireless, which made sense from a business point of view, but was a different technology. A lot of the components here are similar in nature.”
Bruce said that while the market will dictate software-defined WAN’s speed of adoption, everything they are seeing is promising.
“Last year, I saw very few RFPs for WAN optimization, but we are seeing them now for SD-WAN or hybrid WAN,” he said. “This reminds me of the transition from PBM to VoIP. That was a more difficult transition, but it was similar to this in the sense that it was clearly not ‘if’ but ‘when’ it would happen.”
Bruce said that the large majority of Silver Peak’s business remains traditional WAN optimization, to the point where they are second or third in market share.
“However we anticipate the acceleration of SD-WAN, and with these changes, we are making sure it’s channel-ready so that it can grow very quickly. We are not thinking in specific timeframes when the SD-WAN segment will become most of our business. We will let the market do that.”
The new program is designed to reach partners how to do fairly simple deployments, which will contrast with their traditional WAN optimization.
“WAN optimization is very technical and complex and we had to work closely with channel partners,” Bruce said. “With this we have a specific go-to-market of positioning channels to take advantage of this much larger market. We will make it channel-ready, meaning zero-touch deployment, with partners being able to wrap their own services around them.”
Bruce said Silver Peak tested their new program in blind tests with a number of partners to make sure we were going in the right direction, and the reaction was positive.
“Some key feedback from this was that the partner community wanted subscription-based pricing for this,” he said. “It’s a connectivity solution between branches at $199 a month list on a subscription basis.
“They really like the recurring revenue,” said Derek Dal Ponte, Silver Peak’s Director, Channel Marketing.
Dal Ponte noted that in the blind testing, some partners who did not know who the vendor was asked to resell the product.
“A fair number of the partners for this come from our traditional WAN optimization based, but there are even more from partners outside our traditional specs,” he said.
The old partner program had two tiers – Gold and Platinum. The new one has three – Summit, Ascent, and Registered.
“We moved to three tiers so we can more logically organize the partner base,” Dal Ponte said.
The sales and technical certifications in the program have been revamped. A new SD-WAN certification training for sales professionals is available now, and an SD-WAN certification program for system engineers will follow. The new partner portal – Basecamp – is designed to reduce partner on-boarding time and provide all training and enablement resources in a single location.
“We have also built a new mobile app that will allow a rep at a partner site to access tools, watch training videos, use tools to articulate the value proposition to the customer, and register the opportunity before leaving the customer site,” Dal Ponte said.
“We spent a lot of effort on online training tools, so partners didn’t have to send engineers away to be trained,” Bruce added.
Bruce also noted that while the program’s emphasis is on SD-WAN, the WAN optimization material has been enhanced as well.