Free Aust reseller training pays off for vendor

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Application traffic management vendor Packeteer has built up its channel support with several initiatives, including free training that has quadrupled the number of Packeteer-certified technicians employed by Australian resellers.

Peter Owen, territory manager for US-based Packeteer in Australia and New Zealand, said Packeteer sales had been growing relatively slowly and the vendor wanted to increase the credibility and acceptance for its network and application performance software.

Packeteer introduced free training for its channel, he said. Resellers were initially sceptical but had begun to sign up in increasing numbers. The headcount of Packeteer-certified engineers in the Australian channel had quadrupled in about a year, he said.

"Before we introduced the program, in six months we trained about 20 people," Owen said. "Now, we've over 200 engineers in our channels, at least level 1, and that's a large benefit for us, [having more] engineers, and in pre-sales and post-sales."

Packeteer used two Australian distributors, LAN Systems and Express Data. Across Australia and New Zealand, the company had about 10 Solution Partners and about 40 Affiliate Partners relating to different locations or verticals, he said.

Resellers could register and get full Packeteer certification online. Level 1, for example, was a three-day course. Resellers could run the training remotely on their own laptops, Owen said.

"They thought, 'but what's the catch?' But there is no catch," he said.

The benefits for Packeteer are obvious. Owen said Packeteer's products didn't lend themselves to easy sales. Salespeople needed some in-depth knowledge.

"People don't buy Packeteer-style technology without seeing why it adds value for their organisation," he said. "But we run a net-zero model -- we are not making money out of training."

End-users were being charged for the training, which enabled Packeteer to recoup some of the costs, Owen said.

Packeteer was aiming to build up sales -- it only sells through the indirect channel -- with several initiatives.

Owen said the vendor had introduced a 30-day free evaluation program, available to customers via its resellers. Customers could try Packeteer's application traffic management for 30 days at no charge, he said.

Owen said some 80 percent of companies who tried the software were keeping it. Yet the evaluation offer was being made well before any preliminary decision by the customer, he maintained.

Packeteer had also introduced what it dubbed the Xpress Pricing Program, to help boost sales of its PacketShaper Xpress compression application. "If customers buy the 6500, 8500 or 9500, we will give the Xpress to them, for all their other devices for free," Owen said.

PacketShaper Xpress has been out since early 2003. Owen did not say if sales of the product had been poor, but he had said that end-users seemed not to understand the benefits of Packeteer products.

"[However] the compression market for us has been quite good," Owen said.

He also said that large enterprises in particular were starting to 'get' the advantages of compression and better network management but the market had considerable room to grow.

Owen said Packeteer had also introduced a fourth algorithm to its compression products. The fourth algorithm was for transactional applications, such as those made by vendors such as SAP or Oracle, he said.

"Packeteer is the only compression vendor that ships with more than one algorithm. It's amplification-aware," he said. "All applications are different."

Owen said that Packeteer had come from a background in network traffic management which had led it to offer specific algorithms for specific needs.

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