Brocade launched its networking channel program Wednesday, hoping to initially attract fewer than 100 IP networking partners.
The Brocade Alliance Partner Program includes four partnership levels: distributor, elite, premier, and select. The program will also include deal registration and will foster relationships between the company's direct sales group and channel partners.
Brocade, which acquired Foundry Networks in order to build out its networking portfolio, once sold its storage products solely through OEMs. That strategy will remain intact to some degree. The company announced an OEM deal with IBM that will enable Big Blue to white-label Brocade's networking portfolio and sell it through its own channels.
Still, Brocade is also planning to take its networking portfolio to market through the new networking channel, which vice president of global channels Barbara Spicek promises will be small and well compensated.
"We want to differentiate from Cisco and its 50,000 partners. We will focus on profitability to the partners by having the channel be selective and by making sure the partners have choice," Spicek said. "We will have stringent deal registration and project protection, and there will be different percentages of deal registration. If you have a top partnership with us, you will get higher deal registration."
Brocade is using fighting words when it comes to Cisco.
"It used to be like Cisco and the seven dwarfs," Spicek said of the competition in the networking industry. "We are the only big alternative, and we are coming out of a strong place in storage networking. We hold massive share. We have proven that we are a very partner-focused company."