Data center network testing solutions: New channel opps emerge

Channel partners have long offered enterprise network testing as a service, but now data center network testing offers even more possibilities for a wider portfolio.

With the rise of converged data center networks and the need to ensure application performance in these environments, channel partners are finding new opportunities in data center network testing.

Several leading enterprise network testing vendors have introduced solutions for the data center supported by brand new or expanding channel programs, and systems integrators that specialize in implementing these networks are eagerly taking part.

Twelve-year-old systems integrator Net Direct Systems, for example, has joined a new channel program from network testing and cybersecurity firm BreakingPoint Systems.

“With converged network infrastructure and some cloud out there, and with the growth of virtualized and distributed environments, enterprise network testing eliminates the guesswork and allows us to proactively design, develop and bring up our customer’s solutions in a test environment,” says Jason Schroeder, senior solutions consultant at Net Direct.

Net Direct can now gain insight into how applications, networks and data centers will perform under high-stress conditions before product purchase and deployment, as well as with with every update and configuration. Net Direct offers vulnerablity testing and application load and security testing.

“Customers are interested in enterprise network testing because downtime is costly,” says Schroeder.

Study shows enterprise network testing increases revenue

In a recent study on the global enterprise performance monitoring and management solutions market, Frost & Sullivan reported that revenue reached almost $1.5 billion in 2010, a growth rate of 10% over 2009. The research firm expects continued double-digit growth between 2010-2015.

The analyst firm divides the testing market into two segments: test equipment used in the post-deployment stage and test solutions used in labs during the pre-deployment stage of the network cycle. According to Frost & Sullivan research analyst Mariano Kimbara, the 2010 market for evaluation laboratories reached $300 million in 2010, a 9% growth rate over 2009. That market segment will see double-digit growth between 2010-2015 driven by data center network complexity.

Vendors need partners to capitalize on enterprise network testing

Recognizing the potential traction of network testing solutions, BreakingPoint has rapidly migrated its product, solution and service sales from a direct sales model to a completely channel focused model in the past quarter, according to Mike Connelly, vice president of enterprise sales at BreakingPoint.

“For the first time ever, we ran 100% of our enterprise business in Q2 through our partner channel,” says Connelly, noting that the company has signed up a dozen partners and has reached out to sixty.

 Who is the ideal partner for BreakingPoint?

“We’re focused on regionalized or boutique VARs, $50 million to $100 million in revenue, who have intimate relationships with their customers and are network, security and infrastructure experts who understand where this market is moving,” Connelly says.

Meanwhile, Ixia, a provider of converged IP network testing solutions, has introduced simplified and flexible network testing solutions that focus on application performance. The company is  working with about two dozen global partners now and also reports one-off engagements with a number of systems integrators. “Enterprise network testing offers a lot of value-add for the system integrator and the customer,” says Jim Smith, vice president of marketing at Ixia.

Ixia's ideal systems integrator is one with an in-depth understanding of the enterprise network infrastructure and  enterprise business customers that rely on the company for device selection and interoperability, as well as development, and network management. While Ixia won’t disclose the names of its partners, Smith expects the company to double the number of partnerships with systems integrators within the next 12 months as network testing solutions for the enterprise data center become more commonplace.

“We predict that with continued and more frequent dramatic changes in the enterprise network landscape, i.e. devices, security, upgrade, new applications, increased mobility, etc., system integrators will be leading the engagements for enterprise network testing,” says Smith.

Moreover, with the recent acquisition of Veriwave, a performance testing company for wireless LAN (WLAN) and Wi-Fi enabled smart devices, the network testing opportunity for partners is even greater, particularly among those who work in the healthcare and education sectors.

Meanwhile, Spirent Communications is going the same route as Ixia and BreakingPoint, only it is focusing on channel partners offering data center network testing as a managed service, says Daryl Cornelius, sales director, enterprise at Spirent Communications.

“We see the enterprise network and data center testing market is growing at 25-30% for systems integrators among their existing client base,” he says.

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