Channel chiefs, Channel partner programs, Distributed Workforce, Networking

BlackBerry Hires Cisco Veterans for Channel, Device Push

Richard McLeod
Richard McLeod

BlackBerry CEO John Chen (pictured above) is writing another chapter in his turnaround plan for the enterprise mobility and smartphone maker. The latest effort involves a renewed emphasis on enterprise channel partners. Plus, a channel move involving BlackBerry's device sales could also be brewing. Both sales efforts, by the way, involve Cisco Systems veterans who have extensive experience building and managing channel partner programs.

First up, the official move: BlackBerry today announced the "evolution of its Enterprise Partner Program for solutions providers." The effort will focus on BlackBerry's cross platform security and productivity solutions-- particularly Good Secure EMM (enterprise mobility management) offerings. The executive behind the strategy is Cisco veteran Richard McLeod,  now VP of Global Channels at BlackBerry.

The Good-oriented partner program delivers a recurring, subscription-based revenue, BlackBerry says. Partners can participate at the authorized, gold or platinum levels.

Meanwhile, sources close to BlackBerry suggest the company may make a renewed channel push with its mobile devices.  If such an effort emerges, it will likely surface under the direction of Alex Thurber, senior VP of global device sales at BlackBerry, the sources add.

Alex Thurber

Thurber, like McLeod, has channel-centric DNA backed by partner-centric experience from his days at Cisco Systems. More recently, he has held executive sales and partner roles at Intel, Tripwire and WatchGuard.

Some Wall STreet pundits and investors have been calling on BlackBerry CEO John Chen to quit the smartphone market, where rivals like Apple and Samsung are dominant. Chen, however, says BlackBerry's device business can be transformed to achieve break-even results -- and even profits.

With that assertion in mind, Thurber joined BlackBerry in April to help rebuild the company's device business. More recently Ralph Pini has succeeded Ron Louks as the device division’s chief operating officer and general manager, according to the MarketWatch.

Two sources close to BlackBerry suggest that the company is carefully considering if or how to further leverage channel partners and service provider for the device effort. In the meantime, BlackBerry has bolstered its enterprise-focused EMM partner strategy.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.