Storage networking vendor Brocade was keen to talk up its channel commitment to resellers at its EMEA Partner Summit in Prague this week. The firm's global channel boss Regan McGrath urged the channel not to put up with vendors forcing them to sell only their own products, while he and other execs opened up on the firm's marketing strategy. Brocade conceded more needed to be done on increasing brand awareness, and insisted that an incoming chief marketing officer will help the company achieve its aims.
Chief executive Lloyd Carney (pictured), who joined the vendor in January this year, spoke to CRN and talked about where he thinks Brocade is at in terms of its growth plans, and what he sees as its key advantages for its reseller partners.
How important is Brocade's smaller size in being able to keep the channel happy? As you grow, how can you maintain this?
There are benefits of being small and benefits of being large. We are not that small – we have $2.3bn (£1.5bn) of revenue and 5,000 employees – we are still a good-sized company. It gives us the ability to be more responsive to our customers and partners. We do not have as monolithic a programme as some of our partners have.
A lot of times we come across partners who have come to us because we are more willing to be flexible. For instance, we have partners who do not want to carry the full portfolio of some of our competitors' products. We will let them carry whatever products they want. They do not have to be only single-sourced with our products.
We do what is right for the partner and that gives us an advantage. We are small enough that we can't be the bully in the town but we are big enough that we can help our partners be successful.
What is Brocade's growth plan for the future?
Our Ethernet fabric is the anchor to our growth strategy, ours is unique. A lot of companies sell switch boards that you can buy an Ethernet switch from – there are probably 20 in the world that make them. There are only three vendors that make a fabric – one from Juniper, one from Cisco and one from us.
Our fabric is unique in that it is an open fabric – you do not have to have all our products in the network. It is more scalable and cost effective. We have the best of the three fabrics. Trying to be one of 20 switch vendors is a challenge when there is one dominant vendor which has 80 per cent of the market. So you then have 19 people – little dwarfs – trying to fight for the rest of it.
There is a clear opportunity for us to be number one in Ethernet fabric and we are going to be driving that hard. Part of our growth strategy is promoting that Ethernet fabric to partners. Those [partners] I am most interested in are those who understand it, or want to understand it and those who are selling it, or want to sell it. It's the future of the company, our unique asset.
Brocade's global channel boss Regan McGrath talked about rivals being over-distributed during the event. How does your channel approach compare, and what can partners expect in the future?
Because of our size, we don't have that many partners, so those we have are not competing and all chasing the lowest price point. When that occurs the vendor might win, but partners don't make any money as they are just cutting pricing down. We're not over-distributed today. Regan has done a good job of creating the channel programme to prevent and protect that.
To become a partner, you have to spend money to train people and send them to classes – it is not zero-cost. For us to have you incur that cost and then find there are others in your geographic area just like you fighting for whatever deal - it's not fair. We do not believe in that and prefer to be under-distributed to protect partners and allow them to grow and be more successful. As we go forward and grow, we have to make sure we maintain that advantage.
What is the company's key product focus?
We started in fabrics 17 years ago with fibre channel fabric, if you overlay [that with] our Ethernet growth, we are actually ahead of the pace.
Today we have 70 per cent of the market for fibre channel fabrics so we think we are well on the path to getting to where we are going to have a dominant share in fabrics also. We're sure we are on the right product.
Our focus is on the datacentre and we are the best in the world in connecting your compute, your servers and your datacentre to your storage – that is our focus.
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