By Scharon Harding
November 2, 2016
Channel players discuss program changes, how partners will collaborate following Zebra Technologies WLAN acquiistion
Extreme Networks has announced additions to its Extreme Partner Network (EPN) partner program that includes enhancements around cloud and cloud managed services.
Under the announcement, EPN gets a cloud specialization program, which includes new incentives for selling Extreme’s ExtremeCloud offering. According to Gordon Mackintosh, senior director of worldwide partner program and sales business development at Extreme, the specialization is targeted at partners who want to resell cloud managed networking but aren’t quite there yet.
“The cloud specialization is really about being focused on…delivering the training, leads marketing and demo equipment for them to resell because the average deal size in cloud is smaller to begin with,” he told Channelnomics. “So it’s about velocity, it’s about scale, it’s about marketing. It’s about reaching many customers and doing many demos to be successful.”
The program also sees the addition of a new cloud managed services program, which provides incentives and rewards for building managed services around ExtremeCloud, as well as allows channel partners to white label ExtremeCloud.
According to Gordon Martin, president of Extreme MSP partner Peak UpTime, these changes are the jolt needed for Extreme’s silver and non-level partners, which were the only EPN partner tier to see a decline (10 percent) in business in FY16.
“This entire industry is going through a transformation. It’s moving to a cloud managed environment. Think of this as Extreme, including their product, having to go through a transformation while all their partners are going through a transformation. So it’s really is a challenging time,” he told Channelnomics.
Meanwhile, as a higher level partner who is already delivering cloud as a managed service, Martin says there is strong appeal in being able to white label Extreme’s cloud offering.
“With white labeling my brand awareness [grows], I drive value for Peak UpTime and I drive value for Extreme,” Martin said.
In addition to cloud and managed services, following the recent close of its acquisition of Zebra Technologies’ WLAN business, Extreme’s announcement today includes the expansion of its solution set to include Zebra technology, while Extreme mobility solutions are now available to all EPN reseller partners, including those who came through the Zebra acquisition.
Mackintosh says that before the acquisition, Extreme had about 30 partners specialized in wireless and that 290 join them through the Zebra buy. The executive claims there is very little business overlap between Extreme partners and those who came from Zebra. He expects Extreme partners to predominantly stay in their core verticals and eventually move into additional verticals enabled by Zebra technology “over time”.
“Our partners are selling predominantly switching and predominantly into education, healthcare and government. [Zebra] partners are selling predominantly to hospitality, manufacturing et cetera,” Mackintosh explained. “There’s quite a nice balance there even after an acquisition. I don’t think we’re going to become over-distributed. I think it’s very complementary.”
Martin agreed that there is a “natural synergy” in the vertical markets Extreme and Zebra traditionally specialize in.
“What happens in the industry is retail-focused solution providers are going to emerge, and all they have been working on is the wireless,” he added. “So in that case, you might see some…partnering [with wired partners] for a big deal. But most partners will probably be wired and wireless, and it will be an advantage and accretive to them to have the Zebra [technology].”
Mackintosh, meanwhile, says he’s seeing many wired Extreme partners and WLAN Zebra partners collaborating.
“Extreme partners are selling the switching, and the Zebra partners are selling the wireless.
Quite a few of the Zebra partners have said ‘I usually just pass this out to whomever. I’d love to partner with someone from [Extreme’s channel] that can do the wired infrastructure’, and then they’ll sell the wireless,” he explained.
And while Mackintosh says wireless installations are “more complex” than switching, he told Channelnomics that a year from now, he’d like to see an equal balance between partners selling wireless versus wired instead of the 80/20 split Extreme’s channel has now.
“I’d like to move to a much more balanced approach where we still maintain switching [partners] who are experts in switching, but we have more partners that are capable of selling a full solution,” Mackintosh said. “I’d like our partners with us hunting and finding new customers and… I would like a greater percentage of our business move to a cloud MSP model because that’s ultimately what the market wants, and ultimately partners make more money from that model.”