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Graphiant, which provides an alternative to MPLS and SD-WAN, exited stealth last fall.
March 14, 2023
Edge services provider Graphiant is courting partners to join its newly launched channel program and deliver its “MPLS-like” offering.
San Jose, California-based Graphiant on Tuesday unveiled its G-Force Partner Program, which targets resellers, telco service providers and agents. Executives say they’ve emphasized simplicity with the new program, evidenced by a single tier structure. They also say the three-year-old company, which exited stealth last fall, will sell 100% through partners.
“We want to co-sell with them, and we are committed to an indirect channel model,” said Cory Kurtz, director of channel and managed service providers. “We will never go direct, and we have support all the way to the top on that.”
Graphiant’s Cory Kurtz
Graphiant will support channel partners through four regional U.S. sales teams: West, Northeast, South and Central. Kurtz will handle relationships with strategic partners – for now World Wide Technology and Trace3 – and service providers. He said he’ll be building out a full channel manager team going forward.
Here’s our most recent list of important channel-program changes you should know.
Graphiant regards its as-a-service Network Edge solution as an alternative to MPLS and SD-WAN.
Graphiant emphasizes channel-centricity, simplicity and growth as three key program principals.
Fitting with the topic of simplicity, Graphiant’s program will only contain one tier. Kurtz said this will cut down on conflict that a multi-tier system can cause between partners and vendors.
“When we look at the metal-based systems or the tiering-based systems, sometimes the people who you thought were champions ended up not being champions. And moving them down the chain can be difficult. So we wanted to create a level playing field for all of our partners, to be able to compete confidently with us and know that we’re not going to give preferential treatment,” he said.
Executives connected their growth principal to “partner reinvestment funds” Graphiant will give to help channel partners deepen existing accounts and obtain leads. In addition, executives pointed to Graphiant’s consumption-based delivery model as a growth engine.
“Rather than traditional telco pricing, where X number of sites at Y number of bandwidth gives you a certain cost, we’ve actually built out a next-generation model that allows us to do committed consumption and network service credits,” Graphiant vice president of sales and marketing Matthew Krieg said.
Krieg said the consumption model has given partners and their customers a “very low barrier of entry.”
“When they’re the trusted adviser, they want to bring forward-thinking technologies to the customers. But oftentimes there’s a bit of a hesitancy of, ‘I don’t want to burn my relationships and have this huge barrier to entry.’ So this has provided a very, very nice way for them to introduce the type of project,” he said.
The program also includes a portal, where partners access deal registration and other resources.
The vendor and many of its leaders bring expertise from the SD-WAN space. Indeed, executives in an interview with Channel Futures described founder and CEO Khalid Raza as “the father of SD-WAN.” Raza co-founded Viptela in 2012 and served as its chief technology officer until Cisco purchased the SD-WAN pure play in 2017.
Graphiant’s Khalid Raza
Krieg served as Viptela’s first field sales person. He said SD-WAN didn’t exist as a term when Viptela started.
Graphiant’s Matthew Krieg
“We talked a lot about hybrid WAN, and then SD-WAN came along. The idea was MPLS was long in the tooth. It was great for unified communication, it was great for for full mesh, and it was easy for the enterprise to set up and build,” Krieg told Channel Futures. “But we were running into problems with bandwidth, with cost, with scalability and with flexibility. You saw the emergence of Office 365 and some of the cloud apps, so the enterprise needed a different connectivity method, and that’s where SD-WAN came.”
Krieg said Raza, after joining Cisco started proclaiming that SD-WAN needed to evolve. Raza had pointed out challenges with SD-WAN that came to form the basis of Graphiant’s Network Edge solution, according to Krieg.
The Graphiant platform to evolve enterprise connectivity into a private as-a-service offering that didn’t rely on VPN tunnels running over multiple underlays. Similar to competitors Aryaka Networks and Cato Networks, Graphiant runs its own private network backbone, with points-of-presence scattered across the globe. The company also enables business-to-business connectivity, helping businesses …
… exchange information with customers and partners without needing to build a “demilitarized zone.”
Krieg said Graphiant’s backbone, dubbed its “Stateless Core,” differs from the competition in that it contains no customer state information. That provides a cost advantage over MPLS Provider Edge (PE) routers that carry all of that information, he said.
“We are not carrying customer IP addresses. We’re not carrying customer routes. We’re not tunneling over that underlay,” Krieg said. “… I can build that core out on commercial, off-the-shelf boxes.”
Graphiant manages the Stateless Core component. Partners may elect to take responsibility for services like policy creation, that edge deployment, edge management.
Margin-based resellers comprise a key partner target for Graphiant. World Wide Technology partnered with Graphiant during the latter’s stealth phase, and Kurtz said the strategic partnership created a “blueprint for success” for other solution providers going forward.
WWT’s Mike Taylor
“As consumption models gain traction, we are committed to working with innovative startups to help solve customer challenges,” WWT chief technology officer Mike Taylor said. “Graphiant has taken a unique approach to delivering wide-area services at scale to reduce complexity in an aaS model.”
Trace3 has also joined as a strategic reseller partner.
Trace3’s Katherine Walther
“We aim to solve enterprises’ challenges, connecting resources, clouds and applications across the digital transformation journey,” said Katherine Walther, vice president of innovation at Trace3. “We are excited about the benefits of Graphiant’s G-Force Partner Program as we continue to grow our partnership.”
Kurtz said Graphiant’s channel efforts began with a handful of strategic partners and is now overflowing into regional partners that “are going to be extremely important to the program.” Kurtz said a good number of partners have approached Graphiant
“I think we’ve accomplished what we wanted with the strategic partners as far as onboarding them and field enablement. Now we’ll be casting a wider net and seeing who’s interested in partnering with us,” he said.
The vendor is vowing to protect partner margins at all costs.
“Even when we’re in a competitive scenario, we’re not going to take away from our partners’ margin,” Kurtz told Channel Futures. So we’re going to stay committed to the profitability of our partners.”
The partner program includes telco service providers, a category that Krieg admits he never expected. He himself had initially expressed to journalists that Graphiant would directly challenge the telcos.
On the contrary, Krieg said telcos have approached Graphiant seeking partnerships. The latter’s services can help them solve their middle mile challenges, he said.
“Interestingly, they’ve proactively come to us about partnering, because in the off-market space, if a telco doesn’t have doesn’t have a backbone in-country, it’s very expensive for them to offer a service. So they’ve actually come to us, and we’re developing partnerships around them using this Stateless Core off-market. I was surprised. I was blown away.”
Krieg announcements will come out in the upcoming months about specific partnerships with service providers.
Finally, Graphiant will be working with technology advisor (agent) partners, who earn a monthly recurring commission from suppliers they refer. The vendor’s emphasis on as-a-service could well attract these partners, who typically leave the managed services component to the vendor.
However, Graphiant executives said their agent play is still finding its legs. Graphiant has not signed an agreement with a tech services distributor (TSD), but it has onboarded two agents as of this week.
“We just came out of launch in September, so there’s still things in the works,” Kurtz told Channel Futures. “VARs and service providers were the number one priorities coming out of the gate.”
Senior News Editor, Channel Futures
James Anderson is a news editor for Channel Futures. He interned with Informa while working toward his degree in journalism from Arizona State University, then joined the company after graduating. He writes about SD-WAN, telecom and cablecos, technology services distributors and carriers. He has served as a moderator for multiple panels at Channel Partners events.
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