When Nortel Networks acquired data networking vendor Bay Networks in 1998 and Web switching manufacturer Alteon in 2000, it suddenly had more than 3000 resellers in the Asia-Pacific. The past 18 months have seen Nortel take a broom to its channel, sweeping it back to a mere 130 partners across the region.
The consolidation cleared the decks for Nortel's nPower channel program announced earlier this year. The program, currently being rolled out in Australia, will consolidate partners across three tiers: Silver, Gold and Platinum. Now the company has the resources and focus to support its partners' growth better than ever before, according to Barry Southern, Asia-Pacific president, Nortel Networks enterprise solutions.
"The excessive number of resellers did not help their business or ours. By focusing on those resellers who have the business model, skills and resources to properly serve their enterprise clients, we are able to support them to a higher degree. The small resellers are still able to source our networking and communications infrastructure from these larger channel partners," Southern said.
Accreditation has become Nortel's channel mantra, which has taken the form of a new two-pronged training strategy announced last week.
Nortel has invested "several millions of dollars", Southern claimed, to fully subsidise the training program for Gold and Platinum partners and partially subsidise Silver partners. "One of the things our partners told us was they needed more training."
From September to the end of the year, Nortel will offer hands-on technical training under the nPower Fast Track training banner and an intensive three-day premier sales training event for enterprise channels under nPower Accelerator.
The training features both pre and post-sales training and is intended to enable partners to design, implement and manage solutions from Nortel's Metro and Enterprise Networks portfolio, including voice, data and optical solutions. "This is an immersion in Nortel's technology," Southern said.
So far, Nortel has signed up around 20 of its partners under the nPower program. Gary Starr, director of sales and integration services at 3D Networks, one of the first nPower recruitments, said the training allows his company to focus its efforts on emerging technologies. "It's very focused, enabling us to ramp up quickly, cost-effectively and efficiently in those areas where we see market demand into the future," Starr said.
In addition to training, the nPower program offers business development funds, increased margins, access to ongoing sales-effectiveness tools and special discounts on Nortel's demonstration equipment.