Software-defined WAN vendor Talari looks to complete channel-centric evolution with new partner program

Talari is particularly looking to add and support partners who will wrap services around their solution, something they think can serve as a focus area of a solution provider’s practice for the next decade.

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Kevin Gavin, Talari’s CMO

San Jose-based Talari Networks has announced the launch of its Talari SMART Partner Program, a new channel program designed to give additional support to the company’s partners and complete its evolution from a direct seller to a channel-centric company.

Talari, which has been around for eight years, makes a range of software-defined WAN appliances which improve the productivity of the WAN.

“We are not a competitor with Riverbed and the other WAN optimization vendors,” said Kevin Gavin, Talari’s CMO. “WAN optimization compresses traffic. Talari is about improving the underlying WAN itself. We increase the size of the pipe. More than half our customers use WAN optimization as well, so we are highly complementary and not competitive.”

“The nomenclature within the partner community is that Talari makes Riverbed Riverbetter,” said Randy Schirman, Talari’s VP of Worldwide Sales. “We put it on steroids.”

Gavin said that while Talari’s solutions scale to the large enterprise, and they have Fortune 100 customers, they also sell into the midmarket and even to SMBs.

“We have five customers that have spent over a million dollars with Talari, and some who have spent as little as $20,000,” he said.

Gavin said that Talari’s go-to-market evolution has been pretty typical in the industry.

“The first phase, the company’s first couple years, was all about engineering,” he said. “The second phase was largely direct sales but while we were doing that, we encountered channel partners because customers who had relationships with them would bring them into a deal. So we were mainly direct, with some channel opportunity sales. The third phase, the last nine months, we have been scaling to a more channel-centric view.”

This evolution to a channel-enabled company is the reason for the new program.

“There were elements of a program in place before, but what we did was build on that and enhance it,” Gavin said. “We made significant investments to bring in channel expertise, including channel account managers. Now what we can bring to the table is a world-class program.”

The program places great emphasis on developing partners who can wrap services around Talari solutions.

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Randy Schirman, Talari’s VP of Worldwide Sales

“We love people who resell our products, but we love them even more if they have a service wrap around them as well, and the program’s structure reflects that,” Schirman said. “Our solution works so well with a service attach, whether it be audit, hosting services, integration, IT outsourcing or many others. We become the glue that allows the partner to build a high-margin service, as opposed to being just another person selling a box.”

The three tier program also reflects this, with a referral partner level, a top services-oriented level, and one in between.

“We have some partners who are opportunistic and more fulfilment-oriented, and others who are building service wraps around us, and the tiers reflect that investment,” Schirman said. “We wanted to make sure we weren’t going to market with ‘one size fits all.’

They have about 100 partners in the program currently, but this will fluctuate and increase.

“There is always some vetting and recruitment going on, but the demand and level of interest means this will grow,” Schirman said. “We want to be smart with the onboarding though, so we can properly nurture all our partners.” That’s especially important because at this stage, Talari doesn’t use distribution in North America (although they do outside it) and deals directly with their partners.

“We aren’t just looking to have anybody join,” Gavin said. “So many partners right now are looking for the next big thing coming down the pipe. SD-WAN has gone from little heard of to something of great interest, with many partners looking to build their business for next 5-10 years around it as a new anchor line. Many Riverbed partners are showing interest.”