Networking solutions vendor Brocade is aware that competition in the networking arena is getting tougher by the day. It is for this reason that the company is rolling out initiatives it believes will help to propel its IP networking business to new heights in the Middle East.
Amanda Giddins, EMEA channel director at Brocade, says as with all of the company’s focus across EMEA, in the MENA region Brocade will continue the implementation of a multi-tiered channel strategy to develop its IP networking coverage, development and recruitment of new and existing channels in UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Pakistan and Egypt.
According to Giddins, Brocade’s key focus is developing converged partners with true system integration skills in the IP networking and data centre markets, which will help them optimise revenue opportunities in the region. In addition, she says the company will continue to invest heavily in the region with additional sales, marketing and technical heads, all with a view to enabling partners in the Middle East to prosper.
Given the consolidation that is taking place in the hotly contested networking segment with Brocade having completed the product integration of Foundry Networks, Giddins says over the last six months, the company has introduced many new products, such as the Brocade 8000 (the first FCoE enabled switch), the NetIron CER 2000 Series compact multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) router and the Brocade FastIron SuperX series 10GbE switches. “Design and development of new technologies and products are focused around addressing key customer issues like cost of infrastructure, complexity and compliance issues while offering highest quality and reliability, she says. “At the same time customers are faced with rising pressure of energy efficient data centres.”
Driven by themes like virtualisation, consolidation and convergence in the data centre, Giddins says Brocade sees the need for customers to refresh their networking architecture. “Customers will need higher performance and better scalable architectures,” she notes. “Brocade has decades of experience in providing scalable, open, compatible technologies to its customers and out-innovating its competition. We believe in evolutionary adaptive network which differentiates Brocade from its rivals and presents a huge value proposition to its customers.”
Giddins reiterates that Brocade’s go-to-market model is 100% indirect and partner focused. “We believe in an open and flexible architecture that provides choice of best-of-breed to the customer,” she says. “This can only be achieved in an open eco-system of partners.”
She goes on to explain that Brocade products are tested and integrated with all key infrastructure providers in the data centre. “We have over a US$1billion investment in cooperative development and testing,” she adds. “Enterprise data centres require an ecosystem of partners and the choice for the customer can only be achieved with open partnerships and open standards.”
Giddins emphasises that partnership and channel ecosystems go beyond Brocade’s OEM and Strategic alliance partnerships. She says Brocade extends its ecosystem model through the Business Partner programme. “Brocade’s Alliance Partner Programme is amidst the richest and most profitable to partners in the industry,” she enthuses. “We believe that customers want choice not only in terms of products and solutions, but also in terms of delivery and integration partner. The channel is key for Brocade and one core investment focus 2010.”
Giddins says on top of the technology investments that the company is undertaking, Brocade is also focusing massively on expansion of its routes to market. “In 2009 Brocade launched a revamped version of its Alliance Partner Programme,” she says. “The programme focuses strongly on profitability and quality of partnership.”
In addition to this, Giddins points out that Brocade has invested in a full set of partner benefits from product-specific incentives (such as a 10GbE promotion), sales and networking academies, deal registration, project protection, aggressive pricing schemes (for core products and vertical markets), growth rebate programmes, marketing fund investment and demo products to provide better tools, resources and profitability to channel partners than the competition.
She says that making revenues and margins on networking product has become more and more challenging for channel partners. “Brocade is committed and is set to continue to invest in a strong partner model and programme to ensure we can build out a strong set of partners to support our networking expansion particularly in the IP business in the local market.
Giddins says from a product and technology roadmap point of view, Brocade will continue to invest in best-of-breed technology and flexible architecture. “A large part of Brocade’s earnings is reinvested into R&D to ensure Brocade stays ahead of technology at any time,” she says. “We will continue to work towards solutions that help our customers along the journey to converge their data centre environments and driving cost out of the network.”
Training & certification
As lot of vendors in the networking space are urging their partners to specialise, Giddins points out that through specific training and technical programmes, Brocade is equipping its partners with the skills needed to leverage the market opportunities out there. “As we launch products, we will continue to work with our partners to ensure they are highly skilled in their [the product’s] capabilities and this will in turn help them to act as key advisors to end customers,” she says. “In short, this offers the partner and end customer choice – the choice to choose a solution that fits a business need.”
She goes on to says that in the Middle East, Brocade is looking at key verticals such as media/entertainment, high performance computing, hospitals/healthcare, education, hospitality and government institutions as market verticals that will bring growth to its business and that of partners. “What I would like to see more is our partners embracing the wider opportunities in the market,” she says.
For example, outlines Giddins, Brocade’s development focus for 2010 is around product optimisation, quality and convergence. “Convergence in the data centre is for real and coming,” she says. “Customers will need scalable architectures, virtualised and optimised. I would like to see partners – distributors, resellers and Systems Integrators (SIs) – leveraging Brocade’s end-to-end networking proposition and selling solutions across the entire portfolio (IP and SAN).”
She adds that the design and development of new technologies and products are focused around addressing key customer issues like cost of infrastructure, complexity and compliance issues while offering highest quality and reliability. “We believe that customers want choice not only in terms of products and solutions, but also in terms of delivery. Brocades gives them, and the channel, this choice.”
Lookin ahead, Giddins is buoyed by Borcade’s share in the SAN segment across the globe, and in particular the Middle East, where it is strong. She adds that Brocade is a “de-facto” standard in SAN and has gained further share from its competitors in the past two quarters. Giddins believes this has happened as a direct result of its commitment to open architecture versus closed proprietary solutions the competition is offering to the market.
As to the Ethernet market space, Giddins says Brocade has established presence in key enterprise and service provider customers in the region. “In the Middle East region we are opening new partnerships and routes to offer product to customers and we are excited and committed to gain market share quickly in this region,” she says. “This is the growth opportunity in my view and with our proven solutions and share strength globally, we expect to gain customer and partner acceptance quickly.”
Brocade is looking to grow its IP networking business and the vendor is galvanising its channel in the Middle East as it takes aim at rivals Cisco and HP ProCurve.