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Extreme boosts channel focus following Aerohive acquisition

Fresh off of its purchase of Aerohive Networks, Extreme Networks revealed it will double-down investments in the channel.

The Aerohive acquisition, which closed Aug. 9, expanded Extreme’s portfolio of wireless LAN technology but also brought in a raft of new partners, including managed service providers (MSPs). With that influx, Extreme’s partner roster now stands at about 11,000 firms. About 86% of Extreme’s business goes through the channel, according to the company.

“Basically, we are inheriting a channel that is focused on managed services, which is great, because that is exactly the way we see the market going and the need for customers is for managed service,” said Gordon Mackintosh, vice president of worldwide channels of Extreme, based in San Jose, Calif.

Mackintosh said Extreme and Aerohive’s partner programs will run separately for the foreseeable future. In part, this decision is to minimize disruption to partners. He said Extreme eventually will look to integrate “the best of both programs to create a new unified partner program.”

What Extreme, Aerohive partners can expect in FY20

For Extreme’s fiscal year 2020, kicked off in July, Mackintosh said the company will build on a partnering approach that it developed last year. In fiscal year 2019, Extreme selected a group of about 200 partners globally, 100 of which were in the U.S., to devote extra resources and support. The focused strategy resulted in selected partners growing 10% faster than other Extreme partners, he said. Extreme now plans to expand that group to about 200 U.S. partners and increase its dedicated resources by about 50%.

“More partners will be able to experience a much more focused and hands-on approach from Extreme,” he said.

Extreme plans to roll out new tools and support to its partner base as a whole. One of the tools will be Quick Quote, a tool that lets partners build quotes online and send them out to distribution, Mackintosh said. The vendor will also expand its online education platform, Extreme Dojo, with more training.

Another focus area for Extreme will be on new customer acquisition, he said. Extreme will continue to support partners in its key vertical markets, two of which — K-12 and retail — Aerohive partners already target. Mackintosh said the Aerohive acquisition “helped to solidify our position in those verticals.”

Aerohive also takes Extreme into the midmarket and SMB space. With Aerohive’s portfolio, partners can offer “a new turnkey technology for SMBs, branch retail or schools … Those customers will be major targets with the Aerohive acquisition as it is today but even more so” as Extreme integrates with the acquired technologies, Mackintosh said.

More partner resources in development

Mackintosh noted several other plans in the works. Partners that struggle with adopting a managed services business model can expect to see a new MSP program in late October. The program will offer business transformation and consulting services.

Extreme Networks also aims to help partners overcome staffing shortages, a consistent problem caused by a widespread dearth of IT skills. While still in concept form, Extreme is considering launching a program that would quickly train job-seekers who are early in their careers. The company’s program would then place those students in positions either at Extreme or partner businesses.

“We are going to be leveraging our global network of training partners as well as our online training capabilities within Extreme Dojo to target early career graduates,” Mackintosh said.

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