Extreme Networks has set lofty goals for 2018, such as $1.1 billion in year-over-year revenue growth.

Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

October 26, 2017

7 Min Read

EXTREME NETWORKS GLOBAL PARTNER SUMMIT — Starting Jan. 1, Extreme Networks partners, including those formerly with Zebra Technologies, Avaya and Brocade, will begin a new journey as part of its new unified partner program.

Gordon Mackintosh, Extreme’s senior director of worldwide partner program and sales business development, played a key role in building the program. It includes a new invitation-only Black Diamond partner status level, which allows partners to set customized growth goals and incentives to further personalize the experience. It requires a $1 million commitment from partners.


Extreme Networks’ Gordon Mackintosh

Also, an updated Ultimate Warrior Program provides incentives for partners looking to sell technologies across the portfolio and rewards top achievers with Black Diamond status.

Extreme has set lofty goals for 2018, such as $1.1 billion in year-over-year revenue growth. More than 80 percent of Extreme’s business is going through channels, and “we anticipate at least that if not more” next year, said Bob Gault, chief revenue and services officer.

During Extreme’s Global Partner Summit this week in Orlando, Florida, Mackintosh sat down with Channel Partners to talk channel strategy, and share the ins and outs of creating the new partner program.

Channel Partners: How do you go about building a single partner strategy and program incorporating all these different pieces, including Zebra, Avaya and then Brocade?

Gordon Mackintosh: We were really fortunate with the people we were engaged with within Avaya, Brocade and Zebra both pre-acquisition and post-acquisition. They really helped us, and gave us a lot of information and detail. And what it allowed us to do was really create side-by-side comparisons of the different programs and look at different approaches, and find the secret ingredients for the most successful partner program. And then we took those and tested them on partners. We spent an enormous amount of time testing them with partners all around the world, getting their input and feedback, as well as from our own internal team.

CP: Have there been challenges to all of this integration? Any lessons learned?

GM: I would say that communication when you’re acquiring assets is critically important. We did a really good job recently with landing pages for the acquisition, help lines and support, and it’s strictly important to the partners because they have to pass that message on to their customers who are wondering …

… what’s going to happen to the technologies, support and pricing. And I don’t think you can ever have enough communication. And if I were to say one thing, it’s maybe we would look to overcommunicate even more than we did. But generally speaking, the feedback I’ve had from the partners is that they felt really well-informed, we said what we were going to do and laid out the road map for them, and we delivered on it.

CP: How is this program different than the programs that preceded it?

GM: We’re working on typically what is industry standard as our baseline, which is focused on growth and solution selling, which is vitally important for us because of the acquisitions and the new customer acquisitions. But what makes this different is we’ve launched a new status called Black Diamond, which will be a loyalty program for our Diamond partners that are willing to build aggressive growth plans with us, and we’ll invest in them and they’ll invest, and it will be highly customized to where they see the opportunity. That plus the new partner experience, which can also be customized and personalized by the partner, really makes this unique. So we have the traditional building blocks of a leading-edge industry partner program, and then we integrated some customizable programs that are customized to the needs and wants of the partner’s business.

The opportunity moving forward for our Diamond partners is really the expanded portfolio that the acquisitions will bring, from the data center to the wireless edge. We’re going to focus on them like never before with enablement and training, and support in order to ensure that they can capitalize on the end-to-end portfolio driven by software. So we’re going to help them lead with software because that will drive higher levels of customer intimacy and higher levels of profit for them, and higher levels of growth. So we’re just in a transition in the market. The Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming more mainstream and we’re going to link our partners to that opportunity and help them growth.

CP: Can you elaborate more on emerging opportunities for Extreme partners in IoT?

GM: I personally believe that IoT is what Y2K was for networking in the late 1990s. It’s the second wave and there’s tremendous opportunity in front of us as more and more things become connected. The network is going to be critical. The applications that run across the network to deliver the business outcomes the customers are looking for controlled by Extreme’s software portfolio is going to be critical as well. But what we’re really looking to do is to take that ecosystem approach where we can match-make IoT consultants with our partners who are experts at selling networks driven by software. So the IoT consultants driving conversations around digital transformation of the workplace or the workforce, finding opportunities and then bringing in our loyal Extreme partners to fulfill the networking requirements of the customer.

CP: What happens after the Brocade deal is final in terms of partners?

GM: Our go-forward plan is [on] two levels. First, we want to …

… keep business as usual for the Brocade partners in November and December. They’ll experience rebates and access to MDF like they typically would, and then from Jan. 1, when our new Extreme unified partner program launches, they’ll be participating in that program. And actually from a Brocade partner perspective, they’ll see their back-end profitability double, which is great news for them.

CP: What are your goals for the first six months to a year for the new partner program?

GM: My goals for the program really are to ensure that we’re enabling the partners and the partners are becoming specialized at one level, and then secondly become master specialists in the automation of the campus and the automation of the data center with our new master specializations that we’re launching. It’s vitally important for them and for us, and for our customers so that’s going to be priority No. 1. Priority No. 2 is going to be ensuring through the Black Diamond status partners that we really build some exciting group plans customized to that partner that grows their business and grows our business profitably, and making sure that we execute against that as quickly as possible. And then just with any new partner program, making sure that it’s well-communicated and understood whether you’re a Black Diamond partner or a Gold partner, there [are] some fantastic benefits there that differentiate us in the industry, so communicating that and making sure everyone’s taking full advantage of the different elements of the program.

CP: Norman Rice III (Extreme’s chief marketing, development and product operations officer) said there could be more asset acquisitions like Zebra, Avaya and Brocade. How will that figure into the new program?

GM: I have no knowledge of any acquisitions on the horizon, but the good news from an Extreme perspective is we’ve done three within the space of a year and we’re becoming experts at integrating assets from companies from an engineering, marketing, sales and a partner-program perspective. And the way that we’ve designed the new partner program, it would be an easy fit to include a future acquisition if that was to happen. And with all we’ve learned through the onboarding of new partners and the communication with new partners, we’re becoming really good at it.

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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