Switch and Data Aims To Grow Channel Program

Colocation provider Switch and Data (SDXC) has taken the wraps off its Alliance Partners Practice, a partner program that it has developed and built with charter partners over the past two years. Switch and Data is now ready to expand the program and enroll additional authorized agents looking for new ways to meet their customers’ unique infrastructure availability and latency requirements.

“We’ve been bringing on the early adopters,” said Joe Mileo, vice president, indirect channel sales at Switch and Data. “When we started [a few] years ago, there really weren’t any alliance programs in the colocation space. … so we’ve been nurturing this and building this with our charter partners, which has allowed us to build a foundation of success, and understand what we need to do for our channel partners.”

The company, founded in 1998, previously focused on direct sales to grow its 34 sites in 23 markets across the U.S. and Canada. The Alliance Partners Program now has about 36 partners, ranging from traditional telecom agents to systems integrators to equipment VARs. The charter partners include: Allyance Network Communications Inc., Bandwidth Advisors Inc., Digital Connectivity Resources, Invictus Converged Solutions, Presidio Inc., Silent Partner and Venture Group Enterprises.

Mileo said that for 2010, the focus is really going to be around systems integrators – the companies out there delivering hardware or software solutions “that need a place to land,” he said. The company is looking to work with partners where colocation is a natural extension of what they’re already doing. However, Mileo said he is definitely not interested in building a program like a Cisco with thousands upon thousands of partners; he’s more interested in quality over quantity. “I’m looking to build a program of partners in those key markets that I have mindshare with, that are able to scale our business with their business to drive incremental revenues for both of us,” he explained.

In order to enforce the quality of partners in the program, there is a training and certification requirement upon enrollment. Training, which is of no cost to the partner, offers advice on how to identify opportunities, design solutions and issue orders with Switch and Data. At this point, there is no revenue commitment; but partners in the program are required to bring on six new customers over the year of the agreement. “One of the key components of our program is really to drive new customer acquisition, really to use this channel as a hunting channel to find new customers to deliver to Switch and Data that we have never touched before,” Milieo said.

The company supports its partners with a complete suite of online tools, including a partner relationship module allows partners to get info about the products and services, obtain pricing for any product at any site, and also engage Switch and Data’s customer solution engineers. Dedicated relationship managers also are provided in each territory to provide partners with support on sales calls, execute enhanced training and answer commission inquiries.

Switch and Data also is touting a competitive compensation plan based on a lucrative annuity payment schedule. The annuity is 10 percent of any billable revenue on the customer’s invoice. However, Mileo said that because the highest cost of business to the channel partner is the acquisition of new customers, partners will receive an extra 10 percent on that monthly recurring revenue for the first 12 months.

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