A new component to the Brocade (BRCD) Alliance Partner Network (APN) channel program is intended to push the company's software-defined networking (SDN) strategy into the channel. The new element of the program is specifically targeted at partners that are interested in deploying SDN, including those resellers that became part of the Brocade partner community through the vendor's acquisition of Vyatta.

Within the new SDN program are deal registration and demo program discount elements that support Brocade Vyatta vRouter products, but this seems like just the beginning in terms of changes for APN. In an interview with The VAR Guy, Raelyn Kritzer, the vendor's director of Global Channel Marketing, noted that Brocade plans to unveil additional changes to the APN program later this year.

Changes to the program are essentially tweaks to what already exists, Kritzer said, but they were necessary considering the acquisition of Vyatta and the addition of its products to the Brocade catalog. She said that Brocade wanted to have the right channel model in place for attracting the right partners and rewarding them for growth and success.

The program is broken down into three tiers—Select, Premier and Elite. At launch, most partners will find themselves in the Select category. Premier and Elite are based on revenue targets ($25,000 and $50,000, respectively), certifications, sales accreditation and, in the case of the Elite level, a much greater focus on software networking sales.

Brocade is expecting strong growth in the SDN market this year, but from a channel perspective, it's clear the business line is still in its infancy. Kritzer noted that marketing development funds (MDFs) are being made available to SDN partners, but because such a partner wouldn't be able to generate much in the way of MDF under a traditional MDF model, the company is basing its MDFs on a proposal-based model.

As SDN gains some traction, don't be surprised to see Brocade switch that back to its more traditional model.

At launch, Brocade has about 100 partners on board, including roughly 80 Vyatta partners. Brocade doesn't plan on being aggressive in its recruiting (the days of casting a wide net seem to be mostly over in terms of channel recruitment), and Kritzer said Brocade was looking partners that fit a certain profile.

According to Kritzer, she will have a better idea about the types of partners that have found the best fit with the program in later in the year.