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Pulse Secure's channel lessons at the end of year one

In the year since it was spun out of Juniper Networks the SSL VPN player Pulse Secure has been able to incorporate some best practice as it builds its channel strategy

The task of devising and delivering a channel programme that works for both the vendor and the reseller community is one that keeps even the most experienced of partner managers awake at night.

As well as attracting and rewarding partners for signing up and showing loyalty there are issuesa around the weighting of revenue and value. There are dangers alienating the big players that bring home mkost of the sales at the risk of cheesing off the small boutiques who are going to be driving the products into new markets.

There is no magic template that a channel director can follow but there is the chance to look at existing programmes and learn from others.

The need to get it right is perhaps more acute for those vendors that are born after a divestment from their parent. The headlines might have been grabbed by the likes of HP and Symantec but there have been other examples of earlier consolidation moves now being unpicked.

Last year Juniper Networks chose to spin off its SLL VPN and network access control business to Siris Capital and Pulse Secure was born.

The firm started life with an established channel and the chance to accelerate its indirect sales but wanted to take the right approach when it came to formalising the structure.

Doug Erickson, the vice president of channel at Pulse Secure, chose to look at best practice in the industry as the firm spun out of Juniper and looked to quickly establish its own partner programme.

The SSL VPN specialist found itself with the opportunity to develop its own distinct channel offering when it was spun out of Juniper last October and in the last year as managed to launch a programme for its 400 EMEA partners.

Erickson has identified three core foundations to its partner programme, which should set the firm on the right track when it comes to delivering what resellers need.

The first is to make sure that the resellers can use the technology to solve customer secure access problems; the second is to ensure that the business model works for the partner; and the final point is to make things simple and profitable.

One of the lessons that Erickson has picked up on is that many partner progrsammes are designed with the needs of the vendor as the most important feature.

"The partner has established a business model to serve their customers and we want to come in and give them things that will support that," he said.

He added that resellers had a choice and unless what they were being offered was simple and profitable they would look for alternative vendor relationships.

"I am competing for the mind share of partners and they have a choice and do not want too many vendors," he said.

Part of keeping it simple is a decision not to opt for certifications but instead to concentrate on competency and to use deal registration as a trigger for discounts.

Rather than using the partner programme as a tool to attract more resellers to the fold the focus for now is reconnecting with those that have been selling the technology for a while and are looking to work out what the firm's plans are post Juniper divestment.

John Mitchell, EMEA partner director at Pulse Secure, said that for some partners it had formed a small part of a wider Juniper pitch and it was now looking to extend its position as it promoted its technology in its own right.

He said that it would be rolling out an enablement plan to help partners understand what it was offering and how they could work more closely with the vendor.

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