SD-WAN vendor Open Systems partners with Equinix as they build up North American business

This partnership, which is of great strategic importance to Open Systems, coincides with their making a major push into the North American market through a channel-focused strategy.

Matt Krieg, Open Systems’ Head of Sales

Today, Swiss-based SD-WAN vendor Open Systems has announced a new partnership with interconnect and colocation provider Equinix. It will see Open Systems SD-WAN technology available on the Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric and supported locally by Equinix.

The new relationship is a global one, but it is well-timed with Open Systems recent push into North America. Open Systems is not that well-known in the channel in North America, and there is a good reason for that. Until fairly recently, they were not selling in North America. Until even more recently, they were not selling through the channel. That all changed as the result of a strategic expansion initiative conducted by a new leadership team.

“This was part of an expansion and new management push put in effect when they were bought by a private equity company 18 months ago,” said Matt Krieg, Open Systems’ Head of Sales. “Open Systems didn’t have a North American presence until two years ago. They sold 100 per cent direct until I came on six months ago. They also didn’t have a professional marketing organization until Luanne Tierney came on board as Head of Marketing at the same time.” The U.S. office opened a year ago, and they moved to a new one in Redwood City CA last month.

The company started in 1990 as a Swiss security integrator and MSSP, and moved into the SD-WAN space in 2012.

“They grew like an organic Swiss farm, selling to neighbours in Zurich, and then expanded into western Europe,” Krieg said. They are very focused on the DACH [German-speaking]  countries. It’s a strong brand there, but has been basically confined there. The strategy now is to take that 28 years of operational excellence and expand it.”

Open Systems differentiation from the numerous other players in the SD-WAN space has always been their support.

“Open Systems started doing SD-WAN and DevOps both before the terms were commonly used,” Krieg said. “We are very much a service-focused company. We don’t have a call centre for support. We have a Mission Control that is staffed by all team members – all employees. That includes senior Sales Engineers and Customer Success Managers. They all take shifts there. Having that DevOps mission control model lets us provide a very high level of service to all customers. Not only is the person you talk to likely be able to fix your problem, but they may have designed the product. It’s why we have a 95 per cent renewal rate, and a Net Promoter Score in the high 50s and low 60s – both of which are atypically high for services businesses.”

That model was what brought Krieg to Open Systems, after starting at Cisco, and moving to Viptela for basically its entire run until it was acquired by Cisco.

“What I saw at Open Systems was this service mindset and model, and I saw a hole in the VPN market for this kind of delivery,” he said. “We are a platform and  we have the IP, but we do the design, implementation, and operational as well as break-fix support. all as a service. The service, its delivery through the automation of the platform, and the ability to truly integrate SD-WAN and security into the platform, and not have to service chain things together, differentiate us.”

Their sweet spot is the enterprise and larger midmarket.

“We don’t get into very large enterprises,” Krieg said. “They want to build and run it themselves and they can afford to hire the talent.

North America will be driven by a 100 per cent channel focused strategy, and Open Systems’ direct salespeople work with a channel-neutral comp model. A channel program has been in place since the end of the first quarter.

“We want truly value-add partners,” Krieg said “We support partners in three stages. The first is a partners-sourced model, where they just bring in leads. The second is a channel-influenced model, where the partner starts to understand what we do, and is also involved with the customer. The third is a channel-driven model where the partner does everything. At this stage, most partners are in the first model, but the channel is a very good lead engine for us.”

The master agent community has been central to Open Systems’ North American efforts so far. They have three of these relationships in place, with Avant, Telarus, and Intelisys, which is owned by ScanSource.

The Equinix partnership is the first of this type for Open Systems. They have a few other strategic partners, with Microsoft being the most important.

“We are a Microsoft CSP, and are IP Co-Sell-enabled,” Krieg said. “We drive Azure consumption, and help with that Azure consumption.”

Equinix is, however, Open Systems’ first colo partner. Open Systems’ SD-WAN will be available globally on the Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric across Platform Equinix, Equinix’s global platform for digital business.

“Equinix is our first colo partner, and I don’t know that there will be a second,” Krieg indicated. “This is a very compelling partnership for us. It gives us the ability to spin up on their hardware platform as a service, and to leverage the Equinix team. That’s ideal for our service delivery model.” Running Open Systems across the Equinix infrastructure simplifies and unifies network and security operations, optimizes resources and reduces the risk of vendor incompatibility.

Krieg said that while this is a very big partnership for Open System, it also provides a new differentiation for Equinix.

“Equinix has many technology partners, but not ones with a services-focused model like ourselves,” he stated. “This is different from anything that Equinix offers, in that we are a services company.”

Open Systems secure SD-WAN on Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric is available now.