Changing the Channel: Networking VAR news

November 1, 2010  9:14 AM

Cisco’s Edison Peres outlines channel strategy

ElaineHom Elaine Hom Profile: ElaineHom

Edison Peres was recently named the new channel chief at Cisco, and I had the opportunity to sit down with him and find out what he has planned for channel partners over the next few quarters. Here is a basic rundown of Peres’ top five strategies and what Cisco partners can expect:

1.)   Build capabilities for architectures and verticals — Peres plans to help partners move from product orientation to more of an architectural practice and build capabilities in priority verticals, especially healthcare and education.

2.)   Earn loyalty by optimizing value exchange — According to Peres, for Cisco, the foundation of partner relations has been value-based vs. volume-based.  Identifying the value of the partners as the program evolves is a critical component in building loyalty — it’s making sure that partners see the value.  One of the key elements of how to work with partners is a collaborative sales model that provides incentive for Cisco to work with channel partners to deliver on what customers need.  Continued »

October 27, 2010  10:41 AM

Avnet adds to SolutionsPath lineup

ElaineHom Elaine Hom Profile: ElaineHom

This week, Avnet announced the addition of four new tracks to its SolutionsPath roster: mobility, energy, retail and financial. Previously, Avnet’s SolutionsPath lineup included only virtualization, storage, networking, security, government, and healthcare.

While none of these additions are really a surprise, it is interesting that Avnet is taking such a close look at them. Energy, retail and financial are givens — verticals are hot, and with stimulus money still available in the energy sector, the retail sector growing again, and the financial sector in dire need of trustworthy partners who understand the regulations. With Avnet’s hands-on and in-depth training, partners are guaranteed a rich education about these markets.

Continued »

October 22, 2010  10:19 AM

HP adds new networking certification tracks

ElaineHom Elaine Hom Profile: ElaineHom

This week, HP announced the addition of networking certifications for partners built very similarly to Cisco’s certifications, even acknowledging partners who have Cisco certifications. HP’s new certifications allow partners to “leapfrog” pre-requisites if they have comparable Cisco certification.

What’s the point of all this? “The idea is to reduce the barriers to an open networking convergence,” said Rebekah Harvey, HP’s director of learning product management. “Professionals can differentiate themselves [with HP’s certifications].”

The beginning level certifications start with the Accredited Integration Specialist (AIS) in network infrastructure, network security and IP telephony. This level is closest to CCNA/CCDA. The next level up is the Accredited Systems Engineer (ASE), in network infrastructure, wireless networks, network security and IP telephony. This middle level is closely related to the CCNP/CCSP/CCVP. The expert level is the Master Accredited Systems Engineer (MASE), in network infrastructure and wireless networks only. This is most closely related to (you guessed it) CCIE. 

Essentially, HP will grant you certification automatically if you have the same requirements fulfilled from Cisco. The automatic certification will save partners a lot of time and actually generate interest in the program. If someone’s been in networking for 25 years and are a CCIE, would they want to have to start from the beginning? Absolutely not. And even if you aren’t a CCIE but have years of knowledge and experience, HP will administer an assessment to decide where to best place you.

For more information on HP’s converged infrastructure certifications, check out this news story from Barbara Darrow, Senior News Director for

September 24, 2010  1:21 PM

Cisco revamps its SMB channel offerings… again

ElaineHom Elaine Hom Profile: ElaineHom

We’ve been covering Cisco’s SMB partner program changes over the last year, and they just keep coming. This past week, Cisco announced a number of upgrades to the program, including a streamlined partner development fund, limited lifetime warranty guarantees, a customized web portal called My Cisco, and a number of new products, including SMB switches and IP phones.

As we’ve said in the past, it’s a lot of work for networking solution providers to try to translate enterprise-level solutions to a solution fit for a 25-person company. And I’ve even heard from partners who say they previously avoided the space because they knew they would lose business to the Shoretels of the world.

But with these new developments, Cisco seems to be doing all that the networking giant can to encourage its partners to go after the SMBs. To see how useful these changes are, I spoke to Gary Nordine, CEO of NetXperts, a ten-year Cisco partner.

Continued »

September 21, 2010  2:11 PM

Sexism in IT: Still rampant after all these years?

ElaineHom Elaine Hom Profile: ElaineHom

Whether you’ve been in IT for a short amount of time or a long amount of time, I am sure you are aware that IT has traditionally been viewed as a man’s world. I am proud to say that in my experience, times are changing, and especially in the channel. There are a number of highly ranked female execs in major companies, including Cisco’s Wendy Bahr, NetApp’s Julie Parrish, Brocade’s Barbara Spicek, plus dozens of others. Even in our organization at TechTarget —,,, and all have women at the helm.

Unfortunately, not all people in IT have moved along. Jimmy Ray Purser, a blogger for Network World, recently posted this blog post, titled “Who’s the HOTTEST video game chick?” I personally love how “hottest” is capitalized.

Besides the fact that this has nothing to do with networking and it’s a poorly written blog, it made me go “hmm” because of the underlying sexist vibe behind it. Note to Jimmy: Women don’t like being called chicks. (Though in his defense, I guess he only called a couple of fictional characters “chicks.”)

But that isn’t even as blatantly sexist as this Network World post from Michael Morris, titled “Hottest Booth Girl,”, equipped with photos and captions.

“But, based on the votes from the expert panel of judges (ok, just the geeks on my team) the winner of this year’s Hottest Booth Girl Contest goes to Bluecat Networks for the race car girls. These ladies were definitely too tall for me (not that that matters at all!). 🙂 ”

So the “geeks on his team” wandered Cisco Live combing for the “hottest booth girls” they could find. I don’t know what’s worse — that this guy is blogging about it, or that Lancope paid two busty Asian women to don ninja “outfits” (I use the term loosely… the term outfit infers that the body is actually covered) to attract men to the booth.

Come on, people. This is IT — it’s not a bikini car show. And I am NOT a prude. I do musical theater — we prance around in lingerie on stage all the time. I have no problem with scantily clad women being where scantily clad women are expected — I don’t expect to see Katy Perry wearing a full business suit when she performs at the VMAs. Bring on the “Daisy Dukes and bikinis on top.” But I also don’t expect to walk up to a Bluecat booth when I’m working and be towered over by two semi-naked models dressed like race car drivers hired to attract men with their “assets.” It makes me not want to hear anything Bluecat has to say.

For the record, I have never been leered at or treated inappropriately at a channel conference. The only time that has happened is at non-channel conferences, and I’m starting to understand why. And I would have the same issues with it if vendors hired semi-naked gorgeous men to do the same thing.

What do you think? I’d love to hear from both ladies and gents. Have you seen workplace sexism, or been the victim of it? Do you think it’s something we should just learn to deal with, or do you think it’s disappeared? Send me an email at

September 8, 2010  1:03 PM

Brocade expands its channel friendliness

ElaineHom Elaine Hom Profile: ElaineHom

In this new story from, senior news director Barbara Darrow examines the recent growth in Brocade’s channel. Brocade has opened up more of its IT services to its partners and is reducing the number of direct sales accounts to open up more business to the channel.

What does this mean for networking solution providers? Brocade is obviously not as large as Cisco or HP, but what they do, they do well. With the acquisition of Foundry, Brocade’s SAN products became some of the best in the market. And judging by recent technological trends, storage and network convergence is becoming more and more commonplace, plus creating more business for Brocade’s networking partners.

Continued »

July 23, 2010  2:15 PM

Juniper channel video redefines weird

ElaineHom Elaine Hom Profile: ElaineHom

Juniper has taken “weird” to a whole new level.  In a recent video posted on their YouTube channel, Steve Pataky and Ranjeev Gupta from Global Channels at Juniper decide to do a brief discussion about the program… while taking their clothes off and getting into drag.  You can’t make this stuff up.

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Continued »

July 16, 2010  10:09 AM

Surviving the recession: Words of advice for VARs

ElaineHom Elaine Hom Profile: ElaineHom

It’s no surprise — the recession clobbered everyone, including VARs. CompTIA recently released a VAR post-recession survey, and while the end results were not surprising, the takeaways are valuable for everyone who would like to be prepared for the next (hopefully a long time away) recession.

Key takeaways:

  • The majority of VARs focused extra efforts on maintaining existing customers and providing excellent customer service to keep them coming back.
  • VARs also included social media in their marketing efforts in an attempt to garner new business in a non-traditional way.
  • Focus on verticals.
  • Manage cashflow tightly — including prepaying.
  • Stay on top of quality service.

Continued »

July 2, 2010  3:03 PM

Cisco’s channel changeups — Who will replace Wendy Bahr?

ElaineHom Elaine Hom Profile: ElaineHom

Yesterday, Cisco confirmed on its channel blog that there are major changes happening in its channel executive team.  Here is a basic outline of the changes:

  • Edison Peres, senior VP of worldwide channels go-to-market, will become senior VP of worldwide channels and Cisco’s channel chief.
  • Wendy Bahr, senior VP of U.S. and Canada channels and Cisco’s channel chief, will become senior VP of global and transformational partnerships.
  • Dave O’Callaghan, Cisco’s worldwide distribution chief, will become the VP of worldwide commercial sales, accelerating growth in the SMB market.
  • Cisco will be actively searching for someone to replace Wendy as heading up the U.S. and Canada channels, and a new worldwide distribution chief to replace Dave.

So, what does this mean for partners? Wendy Bahr has always been a friend to partners, and those are some hard shoes to fill. But in her new role, it appears that she can take her expertise to a global level. Edison Peres, in the new role of channel chief, isn’t stepping too far out of his comfort zone.

But it’ll be interesting to see how all of this plays out and who ends up stepping into the empty roles. We’ll also be keeping an eye on Cisco’s further commitment to building out its SMB channel.

June 30, 2010  3:44 PM

Is your customer’s Dell not working? Check the capacitor

ElaineHom Elaine Hom Profile: ElaineHom

Wow. Everyone knows Dell to be the go-to vendor for cheap computers. But is the cheap price worth an exploding capacitor that will leak fluid and might start a fire? Probably not.

According to this story from the New York Times, Dell has known for years that it sold millions of computers with faulty capacitors in the motherboard. Internal emails suggest a cover up and urge employees to “emphasize uncertainty” to customers. A study from Dell suggests a 97% fail rate for computers with these capacitors.

Continued »

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