How Netgear is investing in its partners and helping you dip a toe in managed services

With the launch of a revamped channel partner programme, as well as a brand new cloud-based IT service platform, Netgear is heavily focusing on resellers right now. IT Channel Expert sat down with the firm’s UK and Ireland regional manager, Peter Hannah, to chat about how resellers can get into managed services, the SMB sweet spot, and investing in training.

Can you give us a brief overview of the company?

We sit across three businesses in the UK. First there’s the retail business – most people know the brand through consumer products such as home Wi-Fi and range extenders. Then we have a service provider business. For example, if you buy Virgin Media broadband service, the router you get will be Netgear. We do that for a huge range of telco and service providers around the world.

Finally we have what we call a commercial business unit, which is effectively B2B sales. That encompasses everything from simple, unmanaged switches, all the way up to managed wireless products.

Tell us about your new channel partner programme

We’ve had a channel partner programme for a number of years, which gives resellers access to things like deal registration and marketing assets. We have a partner portal and there are no barriers to entry. If you want to register an opportunity you can. We put eyes on to every opportunity that comes through the partner portal and we speak to as many end-users as we can.

We’ve had that for a number of years, but we now have the next generation of that programme. We’re building on what we’ve got and adding in more partner levels. The reason we’re doing that is because our project business is growing.

What we’re going to do is invest more in those partners that are selling more Netgear solutions. That means we can provide greater discounts and rebates for those partners. We can put joint marketing programmes together and we can enroll them into lead generation programmes.

So we’re working with partners that are developing solutions around the advanced products in our portfolio so they can have a more profitable businesses around selling Netgear products.

How do you work with repairs and maintenance service providers?

One of the things we want from partners is the commitment to training. There’s not a cost to training, but we want them to understand Netgear’s products in a much better way so they’re able to better support their clients.

We don’t have any constraints or demands on them to offer a support services to their partners, but we invest in training, which gives service providers a much better opportunity to support their customers at a much higher level.

What products are doing well for you at the moment?

We have a huge consumer portfolio such as home Wi-Fi routers and range extender products. We also just launched a home security HD camera kit.

We launched a chassis switch in January 2015, which is not something you’d normally associate the Netgear name with, but in its first quarter it was our most successful product launch in terms of unit sales and revenue in the last five years.

The price point for the chassis switch is positioned to enable SMBs to take advantage of resilient networks.

How important is the SMB sector to Netgear?

The SMB is a real sweet spot for Netgear. It’s a growing market.

If an SMB has a failing of data, it’s probably more crippling than it would be to a large enterprise. If they have the same demands as a larger company, they need the same resilience within their network. But if they’re an SMB, they need to be able to pay less money for it.

What’s next for Netgear?

As well as the revamped partner programme, we’ve just launched a new cloud service for business Wi-Fi products, called Business Central. It will be a single management pane of glass for anyone looking at building a Netgear network. The first service module is Wireless Manager, which gives you a cloud view of access points wherever they are within your business. If you’re a reseller, what you can do is offer this as a managed service to a range of end-users.

If a reseller wants to dip their toe in managed services, this is a great way to start.

The BYOD trend is now coming to reality and there’s almost a big growth in wireless devices coming in to the network, but the number of access points is slightly slowing down. So we need to catch that up to meet the demand of our wireless devices.

We’ve been very dominant in Wi-Fi for a number of years, particular in education, so we’re growing into new marketplaces, such as hospitality. Business Central Wireless Manager enables us to offer a lot more to end-users and resellers.

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