At last week’s Extreme Global Partner Summit, I had the privilege of addressing our growing partner ecosystem. I covered a lot in my opening keynote, but if there’s one main takeaway, it is this: Extreme is a committed, channel-focused organization that executes on our plans. We are differentiated in the campus enterprise. The combination of our wired and wireless unified management, control and analytics with our 100 percent in-sourced customer support with 94 percent first person resolution provides the best proposition for our customers.
Over the last 6 months alone, we:
- Acquired the WLAN business from Zebra Technologies. This move significantly strengthens our position in the enterprise campus market, underscores our investment in wireless and opens up new sales opportunities for the channel.
- Announced a series of enhancements and incentives to the Extreme Partner Network (EPN) to further enable and reward global partners through new solutions selling, net new customer acquisition, deal registration, and cloud managed services programs.
Unfortunately for them, our competitors can’t claim the same positive momentum. Take Aerohive, for instance, a company that tried to pick a fight with us over the Zebra acquisition. Unlike Aerohive, Extreme offers partners unified wired and wireless solutions, highly focused partner programs and vastly specialized solutions. Aerohive can’t do this. Their solutions are disparate and their partner programs lack the direction and content that ours are able to deliver. In a one-on-one match, I’d bet on Extreme every time.
Last week at our Global Partner Summit, I also informed our partner base that I felt that Brocade was “confused” and without direction. With news this week that Broadcom plans to purchase Brocade/Ruckus it’s easy to see why. The company informed customers and partners that it is exiting the networking and wireless business leaving the future highly uncertain. This worries their customers and partners for a number of reasons:
- No Future: It’s extremely risky to leave your communications and connectivity for your business and customers to a technology that has an uncertain future. Investments in a converged wired and wireless platform that operates on a single management platform – Extreme’s area of strength and differentiation – will never happen with these two players. Brocade acquired Ruckus only a few months ago. Any planned integration will cease as Broadcom decides if it makes more sense to divest the business as a combined wired and wireless business or as separate entities.
- No Support: A series of media articles and letters sent to Broadcom partners show that Broadcom will divest the IP networking business. As the business is divested, sold off in whole or in parts to another company, customer support will be uncertain. Extreme prides itself on our award winning in house support for all customers around the globe.
- No Room For Partners: I think this quote from the “CEO for a top Ruckus partner” sums up the concerns best: “The way they [Brocade/Ruckus] handled this could stop sales dead in their tracks. The issue becomes if you are (a) hotel buying a mission-critical wireless solution, you just had the company say it doesn’t know what they are going to do with the networking business. I am surprised. If this was Ruckus I am sure we would have gotten some information on this. I am not sure why, but they don’t seem to be concerned about what the market is going to do with the lack of information on Ruckus and Brocade. If they cared about the asset, I would have thought they would have treated it with more respect.”We suspect that partner programs and rebates will be uncertain while the future of the business remains unclear as the final disposition of the networking business is not final.
As a strategic partner with Broadcom, we’re excited about its acquisition and plan to strengthen its solutions offerings to the marketplace. We will continue to expand our investment in our partnership with Broadcom and believe this investment will continue to help us build our competitive advantage. Looking ahead the road is unclear for Brocade and Ruckus with uncertainty over whether they will find a home together or as separate entities. One thing I am certain of is that when the dust settles from this news many months from now, Extreme will continue to march forward in lock step with our partner ecosystem to continue meeting the connectivity needs of enterprise customers in our target vertical markets.
At the end of the day, it comes down to having the technology, strategies and tactics in place that will drive success for partners. I’m proud to be a part of a team at Extreme that works hard every day to make this a reality.