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Channel partners crucial to Arista CUE's midmarket success

For Arista's new Cognitive Unified Edge product to succeed, the company will have to nurture midmarket channel partners.

Arista has launched a package of cloud-based, as-a-service networking tools for midsize companies with limited IT resources.

Arista's go-to-market strategy for the slimmed-down version of its Cognitive Unified Edge portfolio is 100% channel partner-based, the company said last week. The strategy highlights the importance of resellers for a company with its roots in the data center.

CUE is a suite of networking and security products controlled via the CloudVision management platform. Companies can deploy different collections of CUE products depending on businesses' size and networking needs.

The hardware available through CUE includes Wi-Fi 5, 6 and 6E access points; 12- and 16-port compact wired switches; four Q-Series next-generation firewall appliances; and micro-edge devices to be deployed in branch locations to extend the corporate network.

Management through CloudVision allows network managers to monitor security events, push configurations, and provision, troubleshoot and oversee wireless, wired and WAN networks. Using the same management interface for CUE as for large enterprise-scale Arista products is likely to appeal to companies looking to scale up over time. Also, offering the product as a service or managed service through a channel partner lowers the barrier to entry when it comes to deployment.

CUE represents the next step in Arista's goal to move into the midmarket area, an uphill battle for a vendor historically associated with large enterprises and data centers. Its success will mainly rest on its partnerships with resellers who have relationships with midsize businesses.

Arista offers a CUE Fast Start program to provide training, certifications and market development funds to CUE channel partners. It is also adding a new discount tier to its channel partner program.

One member of the CUE Fast Start program is Sabur Mian, CEO of STN. The company has been an exclusive Arista reseller, but it's new to the CUE product.

"We have five or six engineers that are fully trained on the Arista of product line [so the CUE Fast Start program] was pretty fast. " Mian said. "Over the last three years, I've seen [Arista] enhance the channel program like nobody's business."

Alongside developing a channel ecosystem, Arista will face the challenge of creating brand recognition, Bob Laliberte, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group, said.

"They're really going to have to prove to these organizations that the company that's well known for its high-end network equipment is able to deliver a simple, easy-to-use solution for the commercial space," Laliberte said.

Mian believes CUE could be successful in the midmarket. The unified nature of CUE products will appeal to his smaller customers with lean IT teams. Also, companies can distribute the products geographically, which will appeal to midsize customers managing satellite locations.

Last week, Mian talked to three customers who said they were ready to consider CUE.

"I couldn't talk to them [about CUE] until they released the product, but [now] three of them are looking into getting a demo," Mian said.

Enterprise Strategy Group is a division of TechTarget.

Madelaine Millar is a news writer covering network technology at TechTarget. She has previously written about science and technology for MIT's Lincoln Laboratory and the Khoury College of Computer Sciences, as well as covering community news for Boston Globe Media.

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