The German system integrator and managed service provider Controlware was the first partner to receive Extreme Networks’ certification for the new Extreme Partner Program certifications and Master specializations in Secure Automated Campus and Agile Data Center. Extreme Networks and Controlware have been supporting common customers in their demanding, routing, and switching projects as well as in the planning and implementation of software-controlled campus, fabric, and wireless infrastructures for ten years.
Rolf Bachmann, Head of Network Solutions for Business Development at Controlware, gives a brief interview on the benefits of the qualification measures for his company, but also for other partners of Extreme Networks and ultimately for the customers.
Question #1: What motivated Controlware to carry out the certifications and how complex was this?
As a pure network player, Extreme Networks has steadily consolidated its market position in recent years through smart acquisitions. The broad solution portfolio for the data center and campus allows our joint customers to benefit from the possibilities offered by the software-defined technologies beyond their own data center, thus setting the course for the future today. There is potential for growth here for both customers and IT service providers such as Controlware. Prerequisite is the mentioned qualification measures.
Another big advantage for us is that we, as carriers of all specializations, can now better stand out from the competition.
The effort involved in completing the training courses should not be underestimated. The benefits of the previous certifications have been recognized by Extreme Networks.
The Master’s Specializations focus on individual areas of customer care and serve to deepen the expertise. In the case of Controlware, these were Secure Automated Campus and Agile Data Center. Thus, the master specializations are a special indicator of the quality of the advice and the implementation of solutions at the end customer.
Question #2: What advantages do Extreme partners and their customers have with the specializations they’ve achieved?
The specializations are a necessary prerequisite for a successful partner and customer relationship, as well as for the acquisition of new customers. They show potential customers the innovation and future viability of a system integrator. In addition, an IT service provider such as Controlware offers its own employees the opportunity through its specializations to further qualify and to increase their satisfaction and their “market value” through advanced knowledge. In times of a shortage of skilled workers and high employee turnover, this is a critical factor for employee retention through training.
Another important advantage is the fact that, as an IT service provider, we regularly have the most up-to-date knowledge and training through regular training in both technical and commercial areas. This is the only way to avoid stagnation and gaps in knowledge. This not only preserves expertise but also expands it.
In addition to the purely technical specializations, Extreme Networks also conducts training for sales and pre-sales staff for its partners such as Controlware. They are also an important part of getting the necessary certifications. Sales training courses are partly online. Training in the pre- or post-sales area, however, usually requires the personal presence of the participants at the training location.
Question #3: What else is important besides the specializations?
Just as important as the training is the practical experience and the continuous support of customers on site. Only through the application and testing of the training content can the knowledge be solidified. Work experience is hard to replace, especially when the customer expects us to solve complex problems. The mix of training and experience in the application makes a good IT service provider. Here, Extreme Networks helps its partners with words and deeds and accompanies them in the realization of what they have learned.
Question #4: Were there any challenges with training?
The challenge with the qualification measures at Controlware was the achievement of a comprehensive level of knowledge of all employees. It was employees who used to work mostly with Avaya, Brocade, or Extreme solutions, and who had different prior knowledge and focus areas, that needed to provide the necessary specialized knowledge of each other’s new and different areas of Extreme Networks’ current portfolio.
It was also important that a sufficient number of employees have the necessary certifications at all times. In order to ensure this, it‘s advisable to create a training plan that guarantees that the respective qualifications are staggered over time and thus do not have to be phased out and renewed at the same time. In this way, continuous care with consistent quality is ensured. This is an ongoing process that allows us to react flexibly to new requirements.
Question #5: How would you rate the Extreme Partner Program?
The Partner Program is a very powerful and yet simple tool that sets itself nicely apart from other competitors’ systems. It can also be flexibly expanded and is user-friendly. So far we have had no serious problems using it. And when we have questions, the Extreme Networks partner managers are always responsive, highly skilled, and solution-oriented.
The complete interview with Controlware can also be found in CRN.
Learn more about the Extreme Partner Program here.