Back in November 2010, when Brocade announced it was changing its Alliance Partner Program to reward channel partners on expertise rather than volume, channel chief Barbara Spicek (pictured) promised there would be additions to the program that would enable partners to earn greater back-end rebates. She and the company have made good on that promise, debuting a set of educational programs, specializations and certifications around virtualization technologies.

Brocade is adding a Virtualized Fabric Partner specialization and the Brocade Certified Ethernet Fabric Engineer (BCEFE) certification, designed to support partners in the delivery of Ethernet fabric technologies. “We are once again increasing our focus on enablement and upgrading the skill set of channel partners, and getting them ready to embrace new technologies,” Spicek, whose official title is vice president of worldwide channels at Brocade. “These focus on virtual fabrics and our vision of the transformation of data center.”

The Virtualized Fabric Partner specialization is geared toward Elite partners who understand the design, implementation and maintenance of Ethernet fabric architectures. The BCEFE certification, meanwhile, is open to any Brocade partners who want to distinguish themselves, according to the company. It is a requirement for partners looking to achieve the Virtualized Fabric Partner specialization.

Brocade also has added an Application Delivery Partner specialization for Elite partners who understand application load balancing and data traffic management technologies.

By earning the specialization certifications, Elite partners in the company’s Value Incentive Program can earn even more back-end rebates – as much as four points, Spicek said.

“The beauty of this program is it’s progressive and accumulative but at any time partners can take specialization certifications and focus on those areas they want to specialize in,” she said. “Partners can [take all of the courses] if they need to or build out specialized programs – it’s their choice.”

The company is also adding to its Global Education roster with a collection of courses for convergence, virtualization and cloud technologies, and in February is kicking off a global education effort that includes a $200,000-plus investment in education for its Elite channel partners. To receive educational credits, Elite and Premier partners simply need to contact their channel manager.

“We’ve always differentiated ourselves by saying education is a vendor responsibility. We already have set of low-cost educational tools available, and now through this investment we are helping and sponsoring our Elite and Premier partners in getting that education,” Spicek said. “Partners are under so much pressure to understand complex solutions and we want to make sure they can get the education they need.”

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