Brocade Shifts to Skills Incentive Channel Model
Joining the ranks of other IT vendors that recognize the value of a good education, Brocade is moving away from rewarding its channel partners based on volume toward a compensation model based on skill sets. Here’s a look at the strategy.
Starting this month (November 2010), the company has rolled out changes to its Alliance Partner Program that includes discontinuing the revenue requirements for its channel partners and encouraging continuing education on technologies rather than on product alone.
“We really want to focus on skills, and invite smaller, niche players to the table,” said Barbara Spicek, vice president of worldwide channels at Brocade. “To do that, we are removing the revenue requirements and we’re adjusting our certification requirements.”
The former program was prohibitive for those niche players – especially consultants and professional services providers – to get even close to the Elite level because of the volume requirements. It’s tough to reach a volume goal when you don’t even sell product, Spiceck said, and yet Brocade considers these niche players to be an important element in the company’s go-to-market strategy.
“We still believe they own the customer; where the hardware comes from is another matter,” she said.
Now that the program reflects advancement based on skill sets, Brocade has leveled the playing field for all players, Spicek said. “We think the program is pretty advanced in how it has been developed and designed.”
As part of the changes, Brocade is launching a Value Incentive Program for its Elite and distributor partners that focuses on enabling them to tie their compensation from Brocade to enhancing the knowledge base of their employees and specializing in certain areas. Additionally, the company is formally introducing the Brocade Specialized Partner designations, which include Network Infrastructure Specialization – rolled out earlier this year – and the new Data Center Infrastructure Specialization. Application Delivery Specialization and Virtualized Fabrics Specialization are expected to roll out in early 2011.
Spicek said the specializations are designed to teach its channel partners not just Brocade-specific technology, but also the fundamentals of the technology in general, including information about other vendors’ solutions.
“They are still Brocade certifications but we’re trying to scale them up to cover all of the convergence and virutalization technologies,” she said. “Because Broacade sits at the heart of the data center, our certifications always reflect the technologies of our vendor partners.”
Partners taking part in the program can earn up to 5 percent in back-end rebates by scaling up, she said.
To kick off the changes and to help partners make the transition, Spicek said Brocade will foot the bill for Brocade Certified Network Engineer certifications worldwide for the next six months.
“We don’t look at certifications as a profit center,” she said. “We believe it is the vendor’s responsibility to educate its partners and technology drives the need for higher skill sets. We want to create awareness and we believe in the end our investment will pay for itself.”