Palo Alto Picks Up Partner Pace With Worldwide Channel Chief Appointment


Palo Alto Networks is increasingly being embraced as an approved vendor by Fortune 1000 companies, said Palo Alto's Bonvanie.

"We're at the adult table," he said. "In infrastructure, it takes a while before you get to that table, where you have the right to be a primary vendor to a large enterprise. If you fail, the company's access to the Internet or business operations stop."

Even as Palo Alto Networks embarks on its next wave of channel growth, the company is determined not to over distribute its product. The global Palo Alto channel network consists of just 1,250 solution providers and distributors.

"We are a 100 percent-pure channel company, and the way we do things is we try to be best in class," he said. "We are very focused on making our partners the central axis of our go-to-market strategy." That means adding big investments in channel talent and field resources with the company bringing on board 20 channel account managers over the last year.

The Palo Alto partner ethos means "very frank conversations" with partners with complete transparency, said Bonvanie. "Whatever we do with our own sales force needs to be shared with the partner sales force, and whatever we do with our marketing has to be shared with the marketing organizations of our partners," he said. "We run advisory councils for the business owners as well as the marketing folks."

Bonvanie, one of the architects of the early Palo Alto Networks channel program, said he expects Myers to have a big impact as Palo Alto scales its channel program.

"It is a very big deal for us to have someone the caliber of Ron who can make strategic choices about global distribution, compliance, growth and margins and do it in a very strategic way," said Bonvanie. "It's imperative for a company like ours that when we go to market with partners, we take a global approach. We do a lot of global deals, and our customers want a single set of terms and conditions. This is going to make it easier for us to do business globally. Getting someone with Ron's experience will have an immeasurable impact."

The appointment of Myers represents a coming of age of sorts for Palo Alto, which has grown rapidly from a technology pioneer and startup of just 50 employees when Bonvanie started four years ago to a 1,200-employee organization respected as a next-generation firewall enterprise power. "It's amazing to see how a great idea and the conviction of doing things with the channel can lead to a company of this size," he said.

PUBLISHED SEPT. 30, 2013