Seeding the evaluation process for networking channel partners

Developing a stable of trusted networking channel partners is vital for business success. Using this tip, learn how to begin the process.

By James D. McCabe

Once you've established the importance of evaluating networking vendors and network service providers as potential partners in your channel business, the first step is to seed the evaluation process by drawing up a list of prospective candidates.

The purpose of seeding an evaluation is to get the process started quickly. Seeding consists of generating an initial list of candidates for discussion. One person, such as the project manager, or a few select people can seed the evaluation process. Since the goal is to rapidly kick-start the evaluation process, we do not want to spend much time on this, but rather quickly put together a short list of candidates (vendors, service providers, or equipment, depending on the evaluation) for discussion. This list often consists of the most obvious candidates.

Why is this needed? I have found that it is much easier to generate discussion and develop options when some options are already on the table. This tends to focus the group and gives them something to work toward (or against).

Some or all of the analysis and architecture products shown in Section 10.3 should be directly applicable to start the evaluation process. We can use these products to determine an initial set of candidates. For example, the architecture process provides us with network technologies and network topology that were selected for the project. The selected network technologies may be available only from a subset of vendors (and their equipment) and may be supported by a subset of service providers. Similarly, the selected network topology may be supported only by a subset of service providers. In addition, only some service providers may be able to reach the strategic locations selected for the network architecture. For example, a strategic location may lie in a city that is not readily available to some providers, or it may be prohibitively expensive for them to provide service to those locations.

Architectural relationships, along with strategic locations, may have resulted in specific equipment types or classes being chosen. For example, strategic locations that require high-performance routing, security, and management indicate the need for larger-scale equipment (e.g., carrier-class equipment) where we can combine these functions, or the need for multiple instances and types of equipment to distribute these functions. The class or type of equipment chosen may indicate a particular set of vendors, maybe also particular pieces of equipment.

We also have the products of the network analysis—the requirements and flow specifications—which can be used to help determine initial candidates for evaluation.

The seeding of the evaluation process results in having some candidate vendors, vendor equipment options, or service providers to take into the next step in this process—discussions with project participants.

Evaluating vendors and service providers for networking projects

  How to choose networking vendors, networking tools and network service providers
  Seeding the evaluation process for networking channel partners
  Having conversations about prospective networking channel partners
  Gathering data on prospective networking channel partners
  Refining your criteria for prospective networking channel partners
  Developing ratings for prospective networking channel partners
  Modifying the list of prospective networking channel partners
  Determining the order of evaluations for networking channel partners

Reproduced from chapter ten of the book Network Analysis, Architecture, and Design by James D. McCabe. Copyright 2007, Morgan Kaufman Publishers, an imprint of Elsevier Science. Reproduced by permission of Elsevier, 30 Corporate Drive, Burlington, MA. Written permission from Elsevier is required for all other uses.

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