The Doyle Report: Brocade in Spotlight
After almost 20 years at Tech Data, Pete Peterson joined Brocade (NASDAQ: BRCD) as vice president of worldwide channel sales in November. Peterson is tasked with managing the channel and alliance program for the San Jose maker of Internet connectivity equipment and cloud computing technology.
The channel chief is a 30-year industry veteran with experience in global distribution, alliance building and partner management.
In this interview with MSPmentor, he discusses his plans and a recent partner study completed by the company. He also muses about what comes next if and when the company completes its announced acquisition of Ruckus Wireless (NYSE: RKUS).
MSPmentor: So let’s start with the recent survey of partners that you guys completed. What did you find?
Peterson: The survey was focused on what our partners are seeing in the market, what are their key strategies, etc. We also wanted to find out, frankly, what their engagement and experience was partnering with Brocade.
MSPmentor: So what did you find?
Peterson: Well, we saw that a large percent said that they would focus in the next 24 months on big data, cloud and the Internet of Things. How they leverage, how they go-to-market on these opportunities was high on their minds. Clearly that’s a strength for us. Our intellectual property (IP) provides a great platform for partners who focus on the connectivity of devices, whether personal devices, business, etc.
MSPmentor: So break down some of the numbers… any surprises?
Peterson: I wasn’t surprised. Having worked at a distributor with a broad portfolio, I was attuned to the market dynamics around big data, IoT, etc. Studies like this provide our product development team and others with insights. This influences development and go-to-market strategies. If you want specifics, 29 percent of our partners believe the IoT will be a significant trend in the next 24 months. Forty percent also believe it will be significant, but only for a subset of business-use cases. When you expand to five years, two-thirds believe it will be a significant trend. Conversely, just 23 percent believe it will be a limited trend. So, as you can see as we expand the horizon, a significant percent believes this will be big. Me personally? I believe there will be early adopters, giving rise to specialized resellers. As things develop and mature, a lot more of the partner community will focus on this opportunity.
MSPmentor: Other findings that jumped out?
Peterson: Another that jumped out was security, hybrid clouds and data center. Twenty-seven percent of partners that we surveyed said managing a hybrid cloud environment from a security perspective is a huge challenge. The top five business priorities for channel partners? We asked an open-ended question and this is what they said.
- 44 percent said growth strategies
- 30.6 percent said expanding into new vertical
- 33.1 percent said upgrading their own technical competency
Helping partners develop stronger technical skills has become a top priority for us. The company, for example, is rolling out new certification requirements, which go beyond a basic product focus and put the emphasis on business-oriented capabilities desired by customers.
We are pushing this information out this month and are literally rolling it out in this month.
MSPmentor: What’s happening inside the community from a size perspective.
Peterson: It’s hard to me to speak from a historical perspective. But clearly we are trying to narrow our focus on who invests in us. We look for those who are equally focused on us. We have three levels, Elite, Premier and Select. We have 100 or so Elite partners. We have perhaps 200-300 Premiers. And the rest are Select. The difference is capability. Our Elites have multiple levels of certification. And they are achieving certain revenue levels. Our Premiers are an area of focus. We feel they have significant opportunity for growth.
MSPmentor: So what about Ruckus?
Peterson: I’m surprised it took you so long for you to ask. I was off recently when it was announced and spending time with my granddaughter. She was on spring break. I wound up on the phone an entire day. We are excited. Ruckus is a great, great company. They are in a great segment. The deal positions Brocade and propels us with our partners. I don’t have a ton of details but there is not a lot of overlap in their partner ecosystem and ours. This gives us a huge opportunity to drive more IP to a new and broader set of partners. From a product point of view, this gives us a great end-to-end story.
MSPmentor: Final thoughts?
Peterson: Technical competency. As the vendor community develops new solutions and innovations, we have to figure out how to help partners develop more advanced skills. That’s where I’m focused. That and the cloud. And the right partnerships.
MSPmentor: You sound busy.
Peterson: Oh yes.