Meru Networks introduces Gary Abad as new channel chief

Gary Abad

New Meru Networks channel chief Gary Abad

WLAN vendor Meru Networks has introduced Gary Abad as its new worldwide channel chief. Abad, most recently North American channel chief for Kaspersky Lab, joined the company earlier this year, just in time for the company’s sales kickoff event.

It’s fortuitous timing for a new channel chief to join the company – to immediately be able to do a deep dive on the firm. More fortuitous still for Abad that the company, which does “very close to 100 per cent” of its business through the channel, had many of its top partners up for the event.

It’s not a big-tent channel program – the WLAN vendor counts about 1,000 worldwide partners in total, and about 100 partners across North America make up 80 per cent of its business – but Abad said he’s impressed by the “fierce loyalty” he has seen thus far among its partners.

It’s a loyalty that Abad is looking to build upon by investing more in education and enablement.

“Partners should expect to see, and will see from us more investment around technical and sales enablement,” Abad said. “Partners who know us technically become real zealots for the technology, so we want to make sure they know our technology inside and out from a sales perspective and from a post-sales perspective.”

Looking at his channel in Canada, Abad said the company has excellent coverage, and gave a lot of credit to Brian Huerter, the company’s area sales director for Canada. “He has served as an example of how to work with partners throughout the company,” he said.

In fact, at the company’s sales kickoff, it names Markham, Ont.-based Integra Data Systems as its worldwide partner of the year for 2011, following a 2010 performance that saw Integra named its top performing partner for Canada and the Eastern U.S.

Abad arrives as Meru completes a major ramp-up in the channel, having more than doubled its channel-facing sales organization in the Americas over the last 12 months. Now it’s got more feet on the street internally, it’s looking to amplify that by getting more feet on the street in the channel – either by going deeper with its current base, or adding new partners where it makes sense.

Vertically, the company is deepening its focus on its key markets in education and healthcare, and warehouse and retail remain important, but the biggest difference its partners are seeing is that enteprise-grade WLAN is expanding into “the carpeted space.”

“Enterprise is going wireless, and the days of it being just a convenient technology are gone,” Abad said. “Bring-your-own-device and the consumerization of IT is putting more requirements on enterprise customers when it comes to wireless access. It feels like the market is coming to Meru, and that’s a great message for our partners.”

The consumerization motion, and the idea that employees are bringing more of their own devices into the workplace and wanting access to the corporate network, is leading to a feeling that IT is losing control, Abad said, and he feels that Meru can play a key role in helping to get that control back.

Key to that is its acquisition in September of last year of Identity Networks, which brings identity management into Meru’s toolkit.

“We will continue to drive solutions that help the IT organization take back control of the network, and help them manage the devices rather than letting the devices manage the wireless network,” he said.