Extreme Networks revamps training curriculum, approach with new Extreme Dojo program

The four-level modular online program updates the curriculum to include all Extreme’s newly acquired assets. Sales training is available immediately, with technical training to follow in two months.

Gordon Mackintosh, Extreme Networks’ VP of Worldwide Channels

Extreme Networks has revamped its online training curriculum with the new Extreme Dojo modular training program. Extreme had modular online training before, but the company’s three major acquisitions last year compelled them to rework their training. The new program has four foundational levels of learning, from White Belt to Blue Belt, which are available for free. At launch, the training is sales-oriented, but more technical content for sales engineers is on its way. Also on its way – but not until next year, will be incorporating training achievements within the requirements of the Extreme Networks Partner Program.

The complete restructuring of the training program was mandated by the wave of acquisitions last year which brought in the former Motorola Wireless LAN assets from Zebra Technologies, Avaya’s Networking business, and Brocade’s data centre assets.

“Our product teams have brought our three solution pillars – Smart OmniEdge, Automated Campus, and Agile Data Centre – to our training program,” said Gordon Mackintosh, Extreme Networks’ VP of Worldwide Channels. “In the same way as we unified the partner program, we unified the learning experience.”

Mackintosh also emphasized that the new training curriculum is part of a ramped-up Extreme Networks channel investment.

“We are investing 50 million in the channel this year and taking a different approach from those cutting back on channel investment,” he said. “Of our three pillars – simpler, smarter and stronger – simpler is built on a one stop shop portal – and within that new portal is the new training experience for partners. We have added a more flexible training experience around both pre-sales and post-sales. We have also doubled the number of training partners.”

Extreme Dojo was originally designed for and rolled out to Extreme Networks’ own employees six months ago, and was modified to be extended to partners after a pilot involving more than 100 partners. Mackintosh said that partner feedback emphasized a couple of points.

“They wanted to consume training in a variety of different ways,” he stated. “They wanted the training to be more multilingual. They also wanted to spend less time working on it in the office. That’s in part a reflection of the skills gap, which makes it hard to hire new people. As a result, being able to do training online in small chunks is very well received.”

The new program’s philosophy is geared toward solution selling, which will come as no surprise, but there are some interesting concepts within the pedagogy.

“It is oriented to solution selling, and leverages video and gamification, with contests that recognize and reward achievement,” Mackintosh said. “It is also very interactive, and challenges them with questions to make sure that they are learning. The testing is transformational. They film an elevator pitch to sell to a CIO.

“We also want the training to be ongoing, but at their own pace, with gamification to make it rewarding,” Mackintosh added. “We don’t want them watching two hours of video and being done for two years. The technology now moves so fast that the training has to be ongoing or it becomes obsolete.”

This desire for ongoing training means that the longer-term plan is to integrate Extreme Dojo within the Extreme Networks Partner Program

“The next enhancements to the program, next year will integrate completion of training as components of the partner program,” Mackintosh said.

“The first level, White Belt is all about getting started with Extreme,” Mackintosh noted. “It’s an overview of our value proposition, why Extreme is a premium alternative to the competition, and why the Partner Program is better for your business. It also covers how you get set up as a partner.”

The second level, Yellow Belt, gives an overview of the Extreme Partner Program and its benefits, including Extreme Partner Rebates, specialization programs, NFR programs, deal registration, and the MDF program.

“There is no technical content at this level,” Mackintosh said. “It’s very much targeted at the business owner or a savvy sales person. We took all the best ingredients from the partner programs in the acquisitions, and we cover them it all here, and which rebates apply to which deals.

“Level 3, Green Belt, is about utilizing all the tools we offer for successful selling, including best practices and configuration tools,” he added. “It’s about making sure they understand how to leverage the tools.”

The top level, Blue Belt, includes comprehensive solution overviews and customer insights trainings to help partners obtain sales certifications.

“It’s the exact same training our own sales people have taken over the last six months,” Mackintosh said. “We are marching toward the entire sales organization having completion of the Blue Belt training.

“Right now, the training is around sales, but there will be a technical one in the next 60 days,” he added.