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Brocade partner chief looks to capitalize on SDN, 'new IP'

Pete Peterson, Brocade's global channel vice president, plans to grow the company's partner roster, while planning new features such as a partner relationship management system.

Long-tenured Tech Data executive Pete Peterson took the helm as vice president of global channel sales at Brocade late last year. After 19 years at the distribution company, during which time he had a 10-year relationship with Brocade, he stepped in to fill the channel executive position left vacant when Bill Lipsin left Brocade in mid-2015. Lipsin has been the vice president of worldwide channels at NetApp since May 2015.

With a long history of working with channel partners, Peterson views this new job as an opportunity to grow and enhance the Brocade partner base. SearchITChannel recently caught up with Peterson to talk about his new role.

What are your goals?

Pete Peterson: My objective is to develop, grow and add value to our partner community. We're in the IP sector as well as our data center and SAN products are in 95% of data centers across the world. So what we're trying to do is leverage our heritage around our SAN offering to provide a broader solution with our IP products.

We want to drive a stronger cadence with our existing partners by helping them grow their practice with Brocade as well as focusing on what's being called the new  IP -- and we think we're in a unique position to provide value given the fact that our products are built from an open standards perspective.

Our products go well with most of the wireless carriers and our products are a unique part of the storage go-to-market strategies with all of the Tier 1 storage manufacturers ... we think we're in a unique situation to take advantage of it.

Talk a bit about current Brocade partner community.

Peterson: Our partner program is built around our Elite, Premier and Select tiers. About 60% of our business comes from our Elite partners, about 30% from our Premier community and about 10% from Select partners.

Ninety days into this job my goal is to spend as much time getting feedback, both internally and externally, on what's working well and what's not.
Pete Petersonvice president, global channel sales, Brocade

What my objectives are, and what our objectives are as a company, is how do we get more share of wallet and commitment out of our Elite partners and how do we grow those Premier and Select partners into a greater revenue position with the company?

[According to Peterson, more than 85% of the vendor's revenue goes through a Brocade partner.]

What are your top objectives?

Peterson: Ninety days into this job my goal is to spend as much time getting feedback, both internally and externally, on what's working well and what's not. So far, I've had the opportunity to spend time with more than 50 partners, worldwide.

I want to review current strategy -- and I think it's a great strategy. The question for us is how do we accelerate the execution of that strategy? Given the many years I've worked with a distributor, that's foundationally what execution is all about.

Another focus is capitalizing on the software-defined network (SDN) opportunity and we've made some pretty strategic investments and acquisitions over the past 18 to 24 months and we think we're in a unique position to take advantage of the transformation of networking into an SDN solution.

We've got our Vyatta products and rebranded those with the Brocade name and they're critical to our success -- whether it's the vADCs, our virtual routers ... so we feel like we've got the right partners that can take those products to market.

We also know that we're in an ever-changing and evolving marketplace so with the skills of our partners today, I think we're in the forefront of transformation.

What about the Brocade partner program? Any changes on the horizon?

Peterson: As you know, programs evolve as the business opportunities evolve. We will continue to make changes to the program, but I'm comfortable with our current program and don't have any major announcements to speak of.

What I'm really focused on is driving this process of predictability, consistency and simplification so we're launching a new PRM [partner relationship management] system later this year or the early part of FY 2017. We're in the development phases of that now with the expectation that it will allow our partners to have a more consistent engagement with us.

The new PRM system will provide easy access to information, timely reporting and tracking of their engagement with us, and tools and assets they'll be able to utilize to drive their business.

Any initiatives you'd like to mention?

Peterson: No. We've got some pretty interesting product releases coming out this quarter (we just started out Q2). So, we want to make sure that our channel partners are enabled with those solutions so we're doing everything to prepare them and get them up to speed on how to leverage our new products.

We have a pretty strong pipeline of new products that we're going to be launching in the next six to 12 months.

What about any new training and education efforts for partners?

Peterson: We do have some enhancements to some of the certification requirements that partners utilize today. I think we have a launch coming up in the next 45 days or so -- so there'll be more to be discussed at that time.

We just want to reinforce our commitment from Brocade to our partners around enabling them with our technology, and the industry's technology for that matter, and ultimately we're refreshing our education requirements so that they can be successful with our products.

Next Steps

Read about channel growth opportunities in SDN technology.

Learn more about SDN and NFV at the core of the new IP.

Find out how Brocade is offering enterprise firms a more flexible wireless network.

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