Brocade Partnering Directions in 2012

Brocade held its Asia Pacific (AP) Partners Summit 2012 last week in the capital of China’s Yunnan Province, Kunming.  For a company which has been the subject of perennial takeover rumors, I was interested to know if it had anything new to convey to its partners.  I was also looking forward to meeting Regan McGrath, Brocade’s newly appointed VP for Global Channel Sales and Marketing and Charlie Foo, Brocade’sVP for the Asia Pacific region.  

Brocade emphasized three key target areas for innovation and investment:

  • Ethernet Fabric: Brocade’s 2nd generation Ethernet fabric technology is aimed at organizations driving virtualization and cloud-related consolidation initiatives.
  • Campus Network: Part of its Effortless Network vision, Brocade’s recently announced HyperEdge technology targets innovation in the campus LAN market.
  • Brocade Network Subscription: Subscription-based access to ports, this service has been successfully made available in Australia and Hong Kong, and the plan is to make the subscription service available across more countries in AP in 2012.

Based on his background as head of the Americas sales territory for over 6 years prior to his current role, Regan is focused on making Brocade more selective in recruiting partners. He stressed the need for a globally-consistent channel program with flexibility at the local level – a requirement I discuss in my report titled, Asia’s Channel Localization Imperative. He also stressed the need to focus investments on training and education, demo and test equipment, and dedicated funded heads for its partners.

Brocade currently has 500+ partners in AP (predominantly focusing on its IP business) responsible for 95% of its total regional business. In February 2012, Brocade opened its new Regional Briefing Center in Singapore and more recently a new head office for Australia, which will double up as a demo, testing, and training facility for partners and customers. In addition to these improved partner support facilities, Brocade has also announced partner-related innovation initiatives that they recently launched or plans to roll out over the next 6 months, including:

  • Partner Relationship Management (PRM) tool (Salesforce.com): For its partners and internal sales reps the PRM tool will deliver role-based content for deal registration, on-boarding, training, and business plans.
  • “Partner Plays” Kit: Vertical-specific kits to aid partner sales, comprised of account profiles, business problem & ROI pitches, target roles, elevator pitches, and case studies.
  • Marketing Concierge: Self-service marketing platforms in multiple languages.
  • Easy Configurator Tool: A tool to configure and design Brocade products.
  • The Brocade Grid: One stop shop for campaign education, customization and launch.

Brocade presented a number of product innovations that I believe will help the company arm partners with the necessary tools to boost sales and profitability. However, I believe it needs to look harder at investments to build its services portfolio, which can help increase the margins of its partners.