New Extreme Networks channel chief lays out program to expand opportunities

Extreme’s new channel chief is overseeing the rollout by early summer of programs the company first announced at last October’s partner event, with the first one being a wireless specialization being announced this week.

Gordon Mackintosh Extreme

New Extreme Networks channel chief Gordon Mackintosh

Extreme Networks has formally announced the appointment of Gordon Mackintosh as the company’s new senior director of worldwide partner program and sales business development. He replaces fellow Cisco alumnus Bob Gault, who moves up to EVP of Worldwide Sales. Mackintosh, who has been with Extreme for six weeks, reports to Gault and takes over the channel chief role of developing the worldwide partner strategy.

Mackintosh takes over at an important time in the evolution of Extreme’s partnering strategy. The company’s core program dates from 2014, and its main purpose was to bring together the very different businesses and channels of Extreme Networks and Enterasys following the merging of the companies. That, however, left to a later point the task adapting the company’s road map and programs to the future, rather than simply the present.

“That program was exactly what you expect when two companies come together,” Mackintosh said. “Last October, at the Extreme Partner event in Las Vegas, we announced additional changes that will provide a solid foundation. Now it’s about implementing those changes and leveraging that solid foundation to grow the business. There will be more focus on wireless, and a new Extreme cloud offering. There will be a big focus on going after net new logos in new markets. It’s not a top to bottom restructuring, but it takes in the need for new revenue streams.”

The core themes running through the changes, which have been announced, but most of which have not been implemented are more automation, more emphasis on ease of doing business with Extreme, and more means to generate net-new business.

“One of the new priorities for me is driving ease of doing business,” Mackintosh said. “We are investing in the partner portal and in tools and systems, like the way we pass on leads to the partners. In the next six months, we will see a lot of this.”

Mackintosh said that generally, they are already considered to be easy to work with, particularly when compared to Cisco, but they need to better leverage their advantages.

“We have much greater speed and agility because we are smaller,” he said. “We also have a portfolio that’s more focused. That also allows us to pivot faster into new opportunities. We can be focused with partners on net-new revenue streams, and can be really successful.”

Acquiring new customers is a key priority in the changes.

“We are looking to invest more in our Extreme Demand Center,” Mackintosh said. “We will see new joint lead generation campaigns, and we will be much more focused on that in the future. We are also launching a new and improved deal registration program, which we first announced back at the Partner Conference. We will significantly increase the compensation to partners to reward them for making that investment in acquiring net new logos, or for selling new solutions into existing customers. It’s all about net-new business, effectively.”

The deal registration process will also be made more fully automated to make it work more efficiently.

“Automating the process will provide deeper levels of protection for the partner,” Mackintosh said. “We want them to know through the automation that they will be protected in those deals.”

The first of all the new program elements first announced last October to be implemented will be a wireless specialization, which is actually being launched this week.

“The wireless specialization will be launched in the next day or so,” Mackintosh said. “It will let partners differentiate in terms of being specialists, and the content will be a mix of industry standards and Extreme focused training. Our goal is to unlock investment opportunities without making the bar too high for new partners, but will still be rigorous enough to keep customers happy.” We think we have that balance, where we will see a lot of our top partners invest in it.”

Presently, Mackintosh said that about 15-20 per cent of their partner base, and Extreme wants to get that up to more than 50 per cent.

Extreme’s cloud offering had a soft launch earlier this year, and the hard launch is scheduled for the early part of the summer.

“We are offering cloud-based management of switching and wireless products, for customers looking for more of a light IT networking solution, but one which is of high quality,” Mackintosh said. “I’m really excited about it from a partner perspective. The devices we will use can be configured as cloud or controller managed. It will be a very differentiated strategy for us.”

The new deal registration system and the other demand creation elements will also hard launch in the early summer.

“The deal registration will soft-launch around the beginning of April, and the hard launch with full automation will be in the June-July timeframe,” Mackintosh said.

“Our overall message is that we want the partners to feel connected to Extreme, and be connected to our new partner portal, which we want to be a one-stop shop for them,” he said. “We want them to be able to differentiate themselves with the wireless specialization, and feel connected to us making new markets together. With any partner, it’s all about that connection, with the portal at the heart of it.”