Riverbed trims channel, simplifies channel program, to meet new demands

Riverbed has intensified its focus on AI while simultaneously simplifying its partner program, and reducing its partner program members by over 90 percent.

Alex Thurber, Senior Vice President, Global Partners and Alliances at Riverbed

AI observability vendor Riverbed has launched their new Riverbed One channel partner program. In addition to its greater focus on AI, which coincides with the introduction of its new AI-powered Unified Observability platform last month, the new program is simpler in its structure, and significantly reduces the number of partners to emphasize value rather than volume

“We have gone through several partner programs in the last few years, said Alex Thurber, Senior Vice President, Global Partners and Alliances at Riverbed. We made changes to our program in 2017 because the old one was too complicated. Then we revised that program in 2018 and again in 2021, so there have been a lot of changes. Hopefully, this one will have long term success.”

Thurber said that the new program tries to do two things.

“The first is to simplify things for the partners,” he stated. “Our earlier attempts to simplify the program were based around our older business model, and we have moved away from that, even though we still sell the traditional products. The second thing is that the program has undergone rigorous changes. There is now one partner level, whereas there were originally four in the Rise program. There were also subprograms as well.  The result was that we had too many partners.”

The new program is by invite only, Thurber said. “As a result was have reduced the number of partners by more than 90 percent. This makes possible a wider, deeper relationship with each partner and also gives them much greater opportunities for profitability. This is also very strategic in that we will get to know our partners better. That’s why some of the partners are so excited about this.”

In the old system, when Riverbed acquired companies, the customers decided who they wanted to work with, and having a single transaction with such a customer got you in the Rise program.

“Now all transactions go through distribution, allowing us to keep our program simple,” Thurber said.

Still, the program is not limited to Riverbed’s larger partners.

“We have had a complicated set of partner relationships,  where we bring in partners where we don’t have a presence,” Thurber indicated. “We fit some into this including the largest service provider program. But the  focus is on the quality of the partner. Some smaller bespoke partners in Europe who are very good got invited. Volume did not come into play. This is a value program, not a volume program.”

“What we are focused on now is helping partners add custom benefits to the program,” Thurber said. “One is a new mobile endpoint offering and another is our NDPS module, which is part of our unified agent. That’s in Beta and launches at the end of June. We’re really focused this year on business enablement, and are now looking at business benefits and that’s a different story.”