How Palo Alto Networks Is Building Next-Generation Security Innovators

Nov 07, 2016
6 minutes

The rate of change driven by today’s technology is unlike anything we have ever experienced. New business models and ways of doing business are being created every day. Industries that have been stagnant for years are being disrupted. Look at what Uber did to transportation, what Airbnb has done to hospitality and what Palo Alto Networks is doing together with its channel partners in cybersecurity.

Protecting a company’s assets and brand remains a foundational component of the cybersecurity market, but today’s customers want to empower their employees to innovate. They want employees to: work on their own devices; have access to the latest applications; use social media to collaborate; all while working remotely from their favorite coffee shop. But in order to offer this flexibility, to empower innovation and fuel growth, the customer’s IT infrastructure has to be secure, making security the enabler of life in the digital age.

With the industry’s first highly automated Next-Generation Security Platform, we are leading the competition. However, in order to fully deliver on our mission to protect our way of life in the digital age by preventing successful cyberattacks, we are transforming our channel strategy. We can’t simply rest on our channel success, we have to remain agile and adapt our channel model to the market disruption and opportunity being created by our Next-Generation Security Platform.

To capitalize on this opportunity, Palo Alto Networks and our partners must think beyond the point -- beyond point products and beyond the initial customer pain point. Success as a channel partners is no longer just about being a solution provider, combining hardware, software and services to address a specific security need. Success is about being a next-generation security innovator, an expert at enhancing an integrated and automated security platform that empowers innovation and delivers business gains.

Without a platform to sell, the competition talks platform while pushing point products and focusing on developing solution providers. We have the Next-Generation Security Platform and are focused on building an ecosystem of next-generation security innovators with the coverage, capacity and capabilities to elevate our mutual success in the cybersecurity market.

The good news for our partners is we saw this transition coming well over a year ago and have already built the framework with the NextWave Channel Partner Program evolution we announced in April.

To accelerate the development of this critical ecosystem we are helping our partners in these five areas:

  1. Being more self-sufficient – provide our partners with the training and real-world experience to lead customer engagements, including Ultimate Test Drives (free trials), Security Lifecycle Reviews (risk assessment) and Proof-of-Concepts.

In the last three months, we introduced a Security Lifecycle Review and four Ultimate Test Drive (Virtualized Data Center, Threat Prevention, Next-Generation Firewall and Amazon Web Services (AWS) marketing kits to help our partners secure these key sales engagements with our mutual customers.

In addition, we have significantly lowered the cost of our Not-For-Resale (NFR) equipment with our new NextWave tiered NFR discounts. And with the introduction of our Product Evaluation System, partners can demonstrate utilization of NFR while eliminating the need to renew subscriptions. The elimination of NFR subscription license renewals can save partners more than 50 percent on their NFR purchase requirements.

  1. Maximizing success – motivate partners with world-class tools, training and programs to hunt new business and embrace new technologies, such as Traps, Aperture and AutoFocus.

In April we introduced a Traps Specialization with detailed training requirements. In just six short months, more than 50 partners worldwide have achieved the Traps Specialization.

Additionally, in October, we introduced a deal registration discount boost for Traps Specialized partners. Traps Specialized partners will receive a 5 percent boost for standard deal registration pricing and a 3 percent boost for non-standard pricing.

  1. Optimizing revenue mix – share our proven best practices, including tools, training and methodologies to help our partners provide a superior customer experience.

When it comes to pre-sales, professional services risk assessments are key, making our Security Lifecycle Review a must use sales tool. Launched a year ago, our Security Lifecycle Review provides a customer a full report on what applications are being used and how adversaries are attempting to breach their network.

On the post-sales side, we share deployment best practices and recognize partners who have demonstrated superior professional services capabilities with the Certified Professional Service Provider (CPSP) program. Customers working with CPSP partners have peace of mind knowing that these partners have been recognized for their superior Palo Alto Networks professional services capabilities.

  1. Driving larger deals – integrate complimentary applications, services and products from our NextWave Technology Partners (such as Tanium, Proofpoint, Splunk and VMware).

The key to driving larger deals is being able to sell the platform and this might be our single biggest area of improvement in the past 12 months. With the new comprehensive enablement framework, we are offering pre-sales Next-Generation Security Platform training at three levels:

  • Foundation (nearly 4,000 PSE: Foundation accredited individuals)
  • Associate (nearly 3,000 PSE: Platform Associate accredited individuals)
  • Professional (600+ PSE: Platform Professional accredited individuals)

In addition to the pre-sales advancements, with this blog we are announcing the overhaul of our Accredited Sales Expert (ASE) by adding a Foundation (available today), Platform Associate (available in our fiscal Q2) and Platform Professional level (available in Q3) just like our pre-sales offering. This will significantly improve our partner Next-Generation Security Platform sales coverage, capacity and capabilities.

  1. Broadening opportunities – provide our partners the ability to offer alternative purchasing options, such as managed services (pay as you grow) and cloud services (pay per use).

This is our newest area of support for our partners. We are currently piloting a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) Specialization and a Cloud Security Service Provider (CSSP) Specialization. Both are invite only; interested partners need to work with their CBMs. When it comes to purchasing Palo Alto Networks products, we want to offer our customers maximum flexibility. These specializations are going to help us get there and will ultimately broaden opportunities for partners.

The creation of the next-generation security innovator is the result of listening to customers, partners and our own sales needs. You have my personal commitment that we will continue to benchmark and evaluate our channel performance through our Channel Partner Satisfaction Survey which you should be receiving next month.

With unprecedented change comes unprecedented opportunities. Let us help you accelerate your transition to becoming a next-generation security innovator and let’s break away together.

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